Detroit struggles continue to stop foreclosures, evictions

Tens of thousands of foreclosures have occurred in Detroit over the last five years. As a result, communities have been ruined, tax revenues drained, and 25 percent of the population has been forced out of the city during the last census period.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs calls for a federal executive order to halt home seizures and evictions by the banks and government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now own or control most mortgages in the U.S. This demand is rejected by the ruling class and its political surrogates who view the banks as sacrosanct.

In recent months several cases have been taken up by Moratorium NOW! and the Occupy Detroit Eviction Defense Committee. The situations facing Jerome Jackson, Angela Crockett, Jennifer Britt, Paramount homeowners, and Jerry Cullors and Gail Cullors have become the focus of anti-foreclosure struggles.

The case of Jackson is particularly reprehensible. Jackson is a paraplegic who has used a wheelchair since he was 14. Living in the suburb of Inkster, he received a mortgage and was promised assistance from Community Living Services (CLS), a government agency of Wayne County that is supposed to assist people with disabilities. The agency was supposed to pay 85 percent of Jackson’s mortgage, but didn’t.

Jackson is now facing foreclosure by Fannie Mae and PNC Bank. The case is currently in federal court, with Jackson, through his lawyer Robert Day, seeking to halt his looming eviction.

At a Wayne County Board of Commissioners hearing on Nov. 1, Jackson’s sister, Jettowynne Jones, reminded the board, “We came before you … on June 7, and the Commission passed a resolution that urged a stay in the evictions pending a review by the County and that urged Fannie Mae and PNC Bank to work with my brother … to obtain a mortgage that reflects his income.”

Jones continued: “I do not believe that any meaningful review has taken place and certainly no mortgage has been offered that my brother can afford. At this point, the threat of eviction weighs on my brother every single day. According to his doctors, the stress has severely weakened his immune system.”

A subcommittee of activists in Detroit Eviction Defense and Moratorium NOW! is working to apply greater pressure on CLS, Fannie Mae and PNC Bank. A demonstration is being planned by students in Ann Arbor, Mich., at PNC Bank headquarters.

Fighting banks & other swindlers

Crockett is facing foreclosure through CitiMortgage, which sold her house even though she had an agreement with the bank through an Unemployment Forbearance Program. A leaflet issued by Moratorium NOW! demands “that the eviction be stopped and that an equitable and affordable solution be offered to … Crockett that reflects the current market value of the home and low interest rate loans.”

Another case is the Paramount Land Holdings swindle. This group of “investors” borrowed $10 million from the Detroit Police and Fire Pension Board in 2009 to purchase thousands of foreclosed homes.

These homes were resold to people on land contracts, although the properties had tax liens and the deeds were never registered with the county. Today, the people who thought they were buying homes are facing tax foreclosures with no legal claim to ownership due to Paramount’s deliberate fraud. The company is now bankrupt, with one owner in prison and another having committed suicide.

The Detroit Eviction Defense says, “Paramount homeowners have been organizing and opposing the tax foreclosures and evictions. The Wayne County Treasurer agreed to a temporary stay on foreclosure proceedings, but the Pension Board insists that homeowners should continue to pay under the illegal land contracts and is threatening to evict those who refuse.”

A dramatic action took place Oct. 30 at the home of Jerry Cullors and Gail Cullors. Jerry, a truck driver and Teamsters Local 51 member, recently had a hefty pay cut and consequently fell behind on mortgage payments for the couple’s Rosedale Park home.

Organizations mobilized to prevent the Cullors from being tossed out of their home, where their son and his 88-year-old grandmother also reside. Efforts were made to set up a human chain to block court officers from breaking into the home and placing its contents in a dumpster.

A motion for a stay was filed in court, but later cops came with a police wagon prepared to make mass arrests. The stay was granted, however, and a police lieutenant arrived to rein in the cops.

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