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Boston protestors speak out against no-fault eviction

Boston protestors speak out against no-fault eviction
On Sept. 13, Bostonians gathered to protest no-fault evictions and demand that U.S. Rep. Mel Watt be confirmed as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency

About 75 community activists marched to the Edward Brooke Courthouse last week to protest no-fault evictions and demand a speedy confirmation of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

Created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the FHFA oversees the nation’s secondary mortgage markets: 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHFA is also empowered to make policy, implement rules and regularly report to Congress. In 2010, the combined debt and obligations of these 14 government-sponsored enterprises totaled $6.7 trillion.

When President Barack Obama nominated Watt, a long-time North Carolina Congressman, to direct FHFA, he declared at a news conference, “Mel understands as well as anybody what caused the housing crisis. He knows what it’s going to take to help responsible homeowners fully recover. And he’s committed to helping folks just like his mom — Americans who work really hard, play by the rules day in and day out to provide for their families.”

Watt’s confirmation has been stalled in Congress by Republicans — and also some Democrats.

But Obama’s ringing endorsement was affirmation to housing activists at City Life/Vida Urbana, which helped organize last week’s protest at the Courthouse.

“The foreclosure crisis is not over,” said City Life/Vida Urbana organizer Maria Christiana Blanco. “So we are working on both the national level and the local levels.”

While the fight to confirm Watt is in Washington, D.C., the fight to save foreclosed homeowners still rages in Boston. Earlier this month, City Life/Vida Urbana activists staged a blockade around the Roslindale home of Oliver Hendricks, a union ironworker who lost his job and fell behind on his monthly payments.

According to Blanco, Hendricks eventually got back to work and tried unsuccessfully to work out a deal with his mortgage company, Fannie Mae, to prevent his eviction.

Hendricks made “a series of offers including paying rent, offering to buy back above the current market value or reinstating his previous home loan,” City Life stated in a release. “But Fannie Mae refused all solutions.”

Hendricks was evicted despite his efforts to retain his house and the efforts of the protest blockade earlier this month.

Blanco said the real culprit here is the no-fault eviction, in which mortgage companies can reclaim foreclosed properties.

According to City Life/Vida Urbana, Ed DeMarco, the current head of FHFA, has refused most solutions in which the previous owner would be allowed to remain in his or her home while negotiating with mortgage companies.

“Watt’s confirmation would likely put an end to this practice and allow communities to remain intact — and allow the taxpayer-owned banks to begin working in public interest again,” City Life argued.

Five people were arrested at last week’s protest.

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