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Michigan foeclosures

Moratorium struggle builds, activists plan to stop eviction

Published Jul 24, 2008 11:55 PM

Organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions have been on the go in Michigan. Activists have been fanning out and spreading the message that a ray of hope exists in the midst of the economic depression and home foreclosure epidemic devastating families in cities, rural areas and communities throughout the state. They have been publicizing SB 1306, a law recently introduced in the Michigan legislature that would put a two-year moratorium or halt on foreclosures and evictions.

July 18. Can solidarity stop Detroit eviction?
WW photo: Alan Pollock

Organizers have been garnering support for the moratorium and getting people on board for the Sept. 17 march on Lansing, where homeowners, community activists and others will descend on the state Capitol to demand passage of SB 1306. The law has also been gaining many endorsers, including Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett.

Activists have been taking direct action to stop foreclosures and evictions by the bankers. The Coalition issued a call for a demonstration to stop the eviction of Rubie Curl-Pinkins from her home on Holden Street on Detroit’s near west side. This disabled senior has lived in her home for 45 years, had it paid off, but was lured into a predatory loan when her medical bills piled up. Her adult daughter, who suffers from congestive heart failure and is on oxygen to help her breathe, lives in the home as well.

Countrywide Bank and its law firm Trott & Trott initiated foreclosure hearing against Pinkins. She has been able to obtain a reverse mortgage and get the funds to pay off the subprime mortgage in full, but Countrywide refuses to accept her payment and is going full steam ahead with the foreclosure. The Pinkins family is scheduled to be evicted on July 25.

On July 18, some 100 people gathered at the Pinkins home to express outrage and show solidarity. The militant demonstration involved family and community members, Coalition activists, and Black, white and [email protected] people of all ages from many organizations. The protesters chanted “Justice for Rubie Curl-Pinkins!” and “Power to the people!” Activists took the microphone to denounce the lenders and speak out for people’s rights. They demanded a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions and vowed that the Pinkins family would not face their plight alone. Another demonstration is scheduled for Bank of America, owner of Countrywide, in downtown Detroit on July 22, to demand they accept the redemption payment from Pinkins.

The protest was the top story on the 11 p.m. newscast of WXYZ-TV 7, an ABC affiliate. Fox News TV 2 and WWJ news radio also ran stories. The Michigan Citizen newspaper ran the Coalition’s entire press release on its editorial page.

The Coalition leaflet stated: “Countrywide and Trott & Trott’s actions epitomize the ruthlessness and illogic of the finance industry, which would rather assert its power to throw people in the streets than accept payment for the homes. The banks and finance companies are destroying our communities, creating thousands of abandoned and vandalized homes, and reducing property values for everyone. Just this week, the federal government bailed out the banks and finance industry by guaranteeing $300 billion in taxpayer money to back up their bad loans. What about bailing out the people, the real victims of the foreclosure crisis?”

Earlier in the week, foreclosure moratorium activists responded to an eviction occurring in Oakland County, just north of Detroit. After a woman’s belongings were taken to the curb by the bailiff, a team worked steadily to move her possessions back into the home.

Coalition organizers have met with students and activists in Ypsilanti who are taking on the moratorium campaign. They were also invited to speak at the Wyandotte Democratic Club’s monthly meeting. This downriver working-class suburb is also the site of rampant foreclosures. A lively discussion generated strong support for SB 1306. The club endorsed the Sept. 17 march on Lansing and passed a hat for donations to help Coalition efforts.

Organizers blanketed the crowd at a recent fireworks display in Monroe, south of Detroit, urging people in that city to pressure their state senator, Randy Richardville, chair of the banking and financial services committee, to drop his pro-banker stance against the moratorium bill. On July 19 Coalition members traveled to Cheboygan in northern Michigan to help activists there build for the Sept. 17 march. On July 21, organizers headed to Battle Creek in western Michigan.

Volunteers and donations are desperately needed. Please visit the Moratorium NOW! Coalition Web site at moratorium-mi.org for information on how to assist this struggle.