Moratorium NOW! Coalition fights to stop foreclosures and evictions
Published Jun 14, 2008 8:11 AM
Michigan has been in an economic depression for several years due in large part
to restructuring, plant closings, buyouts and layoffs in the auto industry.
More than 400,000 jobs have been lost in the state since 2001. Now, that
economic crisis has extended nationwide.
Kim Greene, left, of the Moratorium
speaks out at Detroit
WW photo: Alan Pollock
According to a report issued on June 5 by the Mortgage Bankers Association,
approximately one of every 11 mortgages in the U.S. was past due or in
foreclosure at the end of March. Both the rate of new foreclosures and late
payments on home mortgages are the highest on record since the MBA began
collecting data in 1979.
As home values have declined, homeowners’ equity in their homes, which is
considered the single biggest asset most workers have, has plummeted 46.2
percent. This is the lowest level on record going back to the end of World War
The MBA report acknowledges that the foreclosure crisis has spread beyond the
predatory subprime mortgage fiasco. Even people with fixed mortgages are now
unable to keep up with payments.
Falling home values have left many homeowners with mortgages in excess of the
value of their homes. Housing prices have fallen 16 percent from their peak in
2006. Some economists expect that to further bottom out to a 25 percent
With the capitalist economy teetering on the brink of disaster, many workers
are faced with adjustable rate mortgages that have reset to higher, often
usurious rates, at the same time that the cost of gasoline, utilities, medical
care and food has soared. Wages are not keeping pace with inflation. High
unemployment and the high cost of living have contributed to a growing crisis
for poor and working people around the U.S.
It is in this context that the struggle in Michigan for a moratorium on
foreclosures takes on greater importance. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop
Foreclosures and Evictions is organizing around the state to win passage of SB
1306, a two-year moratorium introduced into the Michigan Legislature by state
Sen. Hansen Clarke.
In 2007, activists with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and
Injustice began to popularize the idea of a foreclosure moratorium based on the
emergency powers invested in the governor by the state constitution during
times of disaster. Demonstrations were held at the state capitol in Lansing
demanding that Gov. Jennifer Granholm declare a state of economic emergency and
impose a moratorium to stop foreclosures and evictions.
MECAWI activists pointed to the Great Depression of the 1930s as the basis for
this demand. During that time, a moratorium on foreclosures was enacted and
renewed for a five-year period in Michigan. Moratoriums were also in place in
25 other states. The moratorium was upheld as constitutional by the U.S.
Supreme Court, which ruled that in times of economic crisis the right of
workers to their homes superseded the constitutional contract rights of the
banks. That ruling is still on the books today.
The struggle has taken on renewed energy with the introduction of SB 1306.
Coalition organizers took to the streets of downtown Detroit on June 6 with a
protest outside of several banks—Chase, National City and Charter
One—all of which participate in the record foreclosures taking place
throughout Michigan. The protesters chanted, “Home foreclosures are a
crime—make the bankers do the time!” One worker said she heard the
demonstration all the way on the 15th floor of the building where her office is
This week the coalition took the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development into federal court. Coalition lawyers challenged HUD’s policy
of collaborating with the banks and mortgage companies to evict foreclosure
victims from their homes. HUD violates their own rules that mandate working
with these individuals to allow them to continue to occupy their homes. In
these FHA-insured homes, the government makes up any losses the bankers may
On June 14 the coalition is holding a town hall meeting where Sen. Hansen
Clarke will hear testimony on how foreclosures, evictions and declining
neighborhoods are affecting people in communities throughout Michigan. A
statewide organizing session preceding the meeting will map out plans for
taking the campaign across Michigan, culminating with a mass demonstration when
the legislature reconvenes in September.
For more information, contact the coalition at 313-319-0870, [email protected], or
Donations can be sent to the Moratorium NOW! Coalition at 23 E. Adams, 4th
Floor, Detroit, MI 48226.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE