Category Archives: Foreclosure/Housing

Unconditional, unrequited love? | By Kevin Alexander Gray

(Note: edited version, “Obama and Black America: Who Has Whose Back?”’ published in August 2011 edition of The Progressive | updated data –WashPost/ABC News Poll: Big Drop In Black Support For President Obama )

“I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.”

—Martin Luther King, “Loving Your Enemies,” November 17, 1957

I ran into Congressman Jim Clyburn at Brookland Baptist Church, here in Columbia, during the 2010 midterm election season while campaigning with South Carolina Green Party senate candidate Tom Clements. As we all exchanged pleasantries, I jokingly mentioned to Jim that I had gotten his campaign mail with the picture of him and President Barack Obama on it. He seemed genuinely pleased, so much so that he walked me over to check out the special poster he had at his campaign material table. The poster was also of Clyburn with the commander-in-chief. Clyburn appears to be making a point in the President’s ear. Obama looks and leans as though he’s listening. The U.S. flag is in the background. At the bottom of the poster read the caption: “JIM HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EAR, AND WE MUST HAVE THEIR BACKS!!!”

Clyburn didn’t really need Obama’s help in getting reelected in his safe district, which is 57 percent African American. And he’s never had any serious opposition to his seat. But it would have taken some help from Obama for him to keep his spot as the second-ranking Democrat in the House after the drubbing their party took in the midterm elections. That help was not forthcoming. When the dust settled, Clyburn wasn’t even offered the minority whip job, which went to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Clyburn was given the new title of assistant Democratic leader. Clyburn has fewer staff than before, he is no longer involved in vote-counting, nor is he a key party messenger. Clyburn’s demotion has not sat well with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he used to chair. But it typifies Obama’s indifference to African Americans across the board.

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.”

Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).

When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year. According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 9 of this year, 85 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about the future course of the economy while 72 percent of white held that view. Eighty-four percent of blacks felt hopeful about their personal financial situation, compared with 73 percent of whites.

Obama and Black AmericaObama is right that the African American community gives him overwhelming support, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. In the most recent polls blacks see “the economy” or unemployment as the nation’s top problem with one in seven or 2.9 million African Americans out of work — the highest number in nearly a quarter century. And some economists argue that 16%+ rate isn’t the “real” or accurate rate. They say that if one takes into account those people who want work and cannot get it and have stopped looking, those not counted such as the 900,000 incarcerated black men and women, and those recently released from the military– the “real” underemployment rate may be 25% or higher.

Back in 2008, nearly all (95 percent) black voters cast their ballot for Obama. Presently, they give him approval ratings just above 80 percent although there are polls with higher numbers.

Blacks still seem to have Obama’s back, but does he have theirs? Continue reading

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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Economics, Federal Budget, Foreclosure/Housing, Obama Administration, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, The Bush Administration, The Obama Administration, white supremacy

March for Jobs at the G20! | Bail Out the People Movement

march4jobsWhy are we demanding jobs or income at the G-20 Economic Crisis Meeting in Pittsburgh in September?

30 million people in the U.S. are unemployed or underemployed – We say NO!

 

 

What is the G-20?

It’s a group of Treasury officials and central bankers from 20 countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Its goal is to protect bank profits, whatever it costs the people of the world.

The U.S. delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve System (The Fed). They organized a bailout of the banks, insurance companies and stock brokerages that totals $12.6 trillion–or $42,105 for every adult and child in the U.S.

How much is a trillion dollars? It is 1,000 billion. And a billion is 1,000 million.

The Federal Reserve controls this money, yet most people have never heard of it. The Fed has seven governors, all bankers, appointed by the U.S. President for 14-year terms. George W. Bush appointed Bernanke Chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors and then head of the Fed. The Fed operates in secrecy, even from Congress, yet makes decisions affecting whether we work, have homes, or eat.

Geithner, the former chief of the NY Federal Reserve Bank, worked with the Fed under the Bush administration to devise the bank bailout. He invented the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and eight other programs to funnel taxpayer money into the banks. His top aide is from Goldman Sachs Bank. He changed bank regulations to prohibit congressional audits of the Federal Reserve.

Who is representing the people at the G20 conference? No one!

Profit recovery for banks –
Jobless ‘recovery’ for workers
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A Global Week of Solidarity with the Unemployed | September 20- 25

Endorse |  Donate  |  Volunteer  |  Become a Local BOPM Organizer  

 

"G20 flyers" by Bail Out The People Movement
“G20 flyers” by Bail Out The People Movement

 A Global Week of Solidarity with the Unemployed
September 20- 25

(During the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA)

Yes to Jobs & Human Needs; No to War & Wall Street Greed

 Sunday, September 20 – Rally & March for a Real Jobs Program

  • Building a Tent City in Pittsburgh for the Unemployed & Supporters the weekend before the G-20 Summit
  • Organizing Caravans of Unemployed People and Supporters to Converge on Pittsburgh during the week of September 19-26
  • Marches, Protests and Events Before and During the G20 Summit addressing demands such as: Bring the Troops Home from Iraq & Afghanistan Now! &  Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, World-Renown Political Prisoner, Journalist, Activists and ‘Voice of the Voiceless!”

http://bailoutpeople.org/

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March on Wall Street & AIG on APRIL 3 | Bail Out People, Not Banks!

Endorse April 3 & 4 | Become a Local Organizer for April 3 & 4 | Find an Apr 3-4 Organizing Center Near You
Donate | Download BOPM Working Paper


WE NEED JOBS NOW!
MORATORIUM ON FORECLOSURES!

For march details, assembly points, etc., see: http://bailoutpeople.org/logistics.shtml


Why We Need a Bail Out the People Movement

The workers and poor are in the biggest economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930s.

Corporations are laying off while demanding deep concessions from those still employed. State and local governments are cutting jobs and slashing services. Health, schools, libraries, parks, mass transit—all are on the chopping block. Tuition and transit fares are being raised.

More than half a million jobs are being lost every month. Unemployment is the worst in more than 25 years. As bad as that is, joblessness for African Americans, especially the youth, is twice as high.

Millions of families have already lost their homes because of predatory lending and high unemployment. Millions more face foreclosure or eviction. Depression-style tent cities are growing.

On every front, working people are facing an unprecedented attack.

Since March 2008, one year ago, the federal government has committed almost $10 TRILLION of the people’s money to bailouts for Wall Street and the banks, hoping to restore their profits and start them lending money again. It hasn’t worked.

Bailing out the rich doesn’t help the people. Putting profits before the needs of the workers, employed and unemployed, is just deepening the suffering and the economic crisis. It is capitalist greed that brought this crisis on in the first place.

We demand that the government, instead of bailing out the banks, put up the money to guarantee everyone a job or income and that it stop the foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs that are devastating the people.

DO THE MATH: Just $1 trillion out of the $10 trillion Washington has committed to the banks could pay for 20 million jobs with salaries of $50,000 a year! That would wipe out unemployment and underemployment in this country.

It’s time to organize and fight back

The Bail Out the People Movement has launched a national campaign to organize and fight for jobs or an income–and for a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.

In January, many groups and individuals from different cities came together at conferences in New York and Los Angeles to launch this fightback. We said then that our objective must be to make the struggle proportional in size, scope, organization and militancy to the threat this crisis poses to the social conditions of the working class. That requires a perspective and plan for the mass organization of working and poor people on a scale unprecedented since the defining labor battles of the 1930s.

The fightback movement must be prepared to utilize a wide range of tactics in the struggle, including mass mobilizations, demonstrations, direct actions, sit-ins, occupations, strikes, boycotts, encampments and most importantly, organizing.

An essential part of our work must be to forge solidarity in the large, complex, multi-national working class in the U.S. This means grappling with and overcoming divisions caused by oppression based on race and nationality, immigration status, gender and sexual orientation.

Racism must be pushed back. Unionists and communities must come to the defense of immigrant workers who are being dragged out of their workplaces in chains and locked up in jails—often with their families.

This crisis is worldwide. Corporations are running to wherever they can pay the least and profit the most. Solidarity needs to transcend all geographical boundaries, local and international. That is key to the success of the fightback.

Who We Are

The Bail Out the People Movement is a growing national coalition of community organizers, youth and student activists, labor unionists and grassroots activists united around the demand: “Bail Out the People–Not the Banks!”

Since last October, coalition affiliates have been organizing demonstrations, press conferences and speak-outs, packing City Council meetings, and helping stop evictions and foreclosures in Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Lansing, Los Angeles and New York.

  • In New York, the Bail Out the People Movement lists hundreds of endorsers and 35 groups as organizing centers for the April 3 Wall Street demonstration. BOPM started last October with a rally on the steps of Wall Street’s Federal Hall where Black leaders, youth organizers, labor militants, Katrina survivors and immigrant rights activists pledged a united struggle against the capitalist banks oppressing the people. It organized a regional fightback conference on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Since then, the coalition made national news with a protest against a foreclosure auction at the Javits Center and was a major force at the International Women’s Day mobilization.
  • The Michigan-based Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions has held countless demonstrations in Detroit and at the State Capitol in Lansing to demand a moratorium. It has also helped stop evictions by mobilizing supporters in solidarity with people about to lose their homes and providing them legal help.
  • In Los Angeles, the Labor-Community Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions has mobilized unions and grassroots organizations to demand a moratorium on foreclosures.
  • In Baltimore, the Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions has been leading a mass campaign to get the City Council to pass Bill 09-0289, which would require a 365-day notice before any foreclosure eviction could occur in that city.
  • In Boston, the Women’s Fightback Network and the Heat and Light Campaign have gone to the streets to demand the governor declare an economic state of emergency and implement a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs.
  • In Buffalo, N.Y., the struggle began last October with a “Bail Out the People, Not the Banks” rally in the financial district. The coalition has gone on to march against fare increases and, on the campuses, to protest tuition hikes and cuts in financial aid.


While the politicians, bankers and corporate media keep the masses out of the decision-making process, the coalition’s priority is to plan activities and strategies for a people-first fightback.

Here’s what we are working on:

May Day Mobilizations across the Country

Establishing as broad a coalition as possible for mass mobilizations on International Workers’ Day, May 1. The program for May 1 is centered on the struggle for immigrant workers’ rights; it was immigrant workers who in 2006 revived the spirit of workers’ struggle on May Day with massive demonstrations and walkouts across the country. This year the Bail Out the People Movement is participating in the mobilizing for May Day and immigrant rights. We will also include the demand for jobs or income and other demands that reflect the needs of the workers and the poor, including opposition to the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

March on Washington for Jobs/Convening a People’s Assembly

With worsening social conditions, the summer is not likely to be quiet. The combination of the economic crisis and police repression–which is epidemic and deadly all year round but tends to peak during the summer–could spark rebellions of workers, unemployed and oppressed people. The late spring and summer could be a time of intensive organizing. It’s time to start planning for a mass march on Washington, D.C., for jobs and other demands.

There is ongoing discussion among the groups in the BOPM coalition and others about the convening of a National People’s Assembly in Washington in the fall. Such a gathering could help consolidate the base and work of the fightback and set the direction and course of action for the next phase of this gigantic struggle.

Join us!

This period presents us with both crises and opportunities of historic magnitudes.

The fightback must recruit an army of volunteer organizers–both veteran activists with experience and skills as well as people new to the movement but with the time and willingness to help.

Most importantly, the fightback needs volunteers who are able to work collectively, who are respectful of others and who are committed to interacting with working and poor people of all nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and ages in a manner that is patient, dignified and devoid of negative presumptions.

Please contact the coalition at 212-633-6646 or www.BailOutPeople.org to find out how you can become part of this army of organizers.

Most importantly, join us in the streets – Friday, April 3, at 1 pm while Wall Street is open for business – continuing on to April 4 – and beyond!

Bail Out the People Movement
Solidarity Center
55 W. 17th St. #5C
New York, NY 10011
212.633.6646
www.BailOutPeople.org
bailoutpeople.org/cmnt.shtml

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Molly Secours’ open letter to Barack Obama

 

Molly Secours

Molly Secours is a writer/filmmaker living in Nashville, TN.  Although her personal story is used, it is universal.  She’s been told she doesn’t fit into the guidelines of Obama’s new foreclosure “bailout” plan (but it was the lender who said that) so she may be losing her home in less than a few weeks. Until now she’s always paid her mortgage–even through chemo and radiation so this is not due to her negligence but to the massive medical bills and debt incurred during treatment. Local Channel 2 covered her story – http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=9869547.

 

When Congress holds it hearing with Bank Of America in a few weeks, these questions must be asked.  It’s probably too late for Molly, but this eventually may help millions of others.

She made a public appeal to Rep. Jim Cooper last week (http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2009/02/this_just_in_the_economy.php) and he has been very responsive.

She may not live in your state but she may remind you of someone you know.  Certainly her situation is like many thousands who may have voted for Obama and needs his help.

The last couple years for her have been harrowing but dealing with the practices of First Franklin (owned by Bank Of America) has been almost as devastating.

Here is her open letter to Barack Obama:

Dear President Obama:

I wish this letter were simply a congratulatory note thanking you for the sacrifices and struggles your family has made in order for you to become our 44th President.  Your victory has been a personal highlight for me. And like millions of others I, perhaps for the first time, feel hope and optimism.

Although I write you today about my personal struggle, I am only one of countless others facing the same fate: foreclosure.  As you read the following paragraphs, imagine the millions of others in a similar predicament.

I’m a freelance writer/filmmaker living in Nashville TN. A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and spent much of last year in chemotherapy and radiation. In spite of never missing a single mortgage payment during the entire time of treatment–thanks to all my friends in Nashville and across the world–I have for the past 8 months been unable to convince First Franklin Loan Services (owned by Bank Of America) to refinance my 9.8% loan.  With the accumulated medical bills and debt incurred during chemo, it was my only hope of keeping my house.  I was later told that until I was 2 months behind in payments, negotiations were unlikely.

Well now I am nearly three months behind and only because of your moratorium on foreclosures, will my March 2nd deadline be pushed back to March 12th. But according to First Franklin, I do not qualify for refinancing under your program.

After weeks of persistent inquiry, it turns out that of course First Franklin can’t refinance my loan.  First Franklin doesn’t even possess my loan. When I asked for the name and number of the person who possessed my loan and who might help me refinance, I was told that my mortgage was actually packaged in a trust under the name ‘Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-2’. Not surprising, he couldn’t give me a good contact number for these Merrill Lynch First Franklin folks.  Out on a Caribbean cruise, I imagine.

I was further told that First Franklin Loan Services priority and commitment is to be fair to the owner of the loan underwritten under their guidelines and that the terms to my loan could not be altered.

Are you still with me, Mr. President?

As part of my cancer recovery I have been advised to keep a low stress level in order to assure continued remission.  Mr. President I must be honest. While going through chemotherapy and radiation was excruciating at times, dealing with the devious and rather underhanded practices of First Franklin Loan Services (Bank Of America) over this past 8 months has been almost as brutal–and in some ways even worse.

Last summer, In spite of the massive debt and medical bills, I still had good enough credit to refinance my 9.8% loan with another bank. But because First Franklin refused to forgive the exorbitant pre-payment penalty, my house was upside down in value and refinancing with a reputable bank became impossible. Eight months later because of the economy, my house is valued at $18,500 less than I owe and now, selling and or renting are no longer options

The details of obstruction and uncooperative dealings with First Franklin are endless and I know you have you heard the same stories from people across the country so I’ll spare you the specifics.

What can you do? When Bank Of America appears before Congress next month, please demand that they answer the following questions. While it may be too late for me by then, maybe it will help millions of others.

1) What exactly are the ‘guidelines’ that loan service providers like First Franklin Loan Services are held to in their agreements with folks like Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-02?

2) Can these guidelines be made public for ALL Americans?  Since First Franklin claims that for people like me that ‘there is no way to alter the guidelines governing’ my loan. Perhaps transparency might help.

3) We already know that First Franklin Loan Services is owned by Bank Of America.  Mr. President, I am wondering why First Franklin Loan Services was unable to benefit from the bail out package received by Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America this past year? That way they could work with folks like me to stay in their homes.

4) Given that the trustees of my loan are “Merrill Lynch” I am thinking maybe there is a way to locate some of the funds allocated to help people in my situation? How many billions of dollars was it that Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America received? Perhaps Congress would help First Franklin Loan Services garner some of that or the new stimulus money from their parent company Bank Of America?

5) I am interested in knowing if I go into foreclosure would the tax benefit go to “Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust” or would it go to First Franklin Loan Services or would Bank Of America receive the tax write off?  This might help me understand more why it has been so difficult to make an agreement before now.  There must be some great foreclosure benefits for so many people to be on the verge of losing their homes.

You see Mr. President, I’m not looking for a bailout or a hand out.  I’m just looking for a good faith deal and fair shake without the smoke and mirrors.

Like millions of Americans, my house is not just the place where I sleep and eat. It is a source of comfort and healing. And although it is true, home is where your heart is, these days, my heart is my home.

On behalf of millions who are facing fiscal, emotional and physical devastation, thank you for your leadership, compassion and humanitarian spirit.

Ever faithful,

Molly Secours, writer/filmmaker/speaker

One Woman Show Productions | www.mollysecours.com | 615.429.6817

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