For immediate release: September 13, 2012
For more information, contact: Lenina Nadal, Right to the City Alliance, (347) 356-3392, firstname.lastname@example.org
Take Back the People’s Bank Campaign Celebrates Important First Win on Principal Reduction for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Foreclosed Homes in California
Following a Week of Actions at Fannie and Freddie offices in Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles, Fannie and Freddie Dramatically Shift Position to Allow Principal Reduction, Coalition Warns, “Not Enough”
LOS ANGELES – In a dramatic shift in position, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reversed their position on principal reduction yesterday and announced that they will begin to allow their borrowers to participate in the taxpayer-funded Keep Your Home California program. This announcement follows a week of actions by homeowners and renters in the Take Back the People’s Bank Campaign, who have been occupying Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offices in major cities across the United States, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles.
Rachel Laforest, Executive Director of the Right to the City Alliance, says, “This week of actions is unique because hundreds of residents and supporters from across the country are uniting and taking action together to defend their homes and to stabilize their families and communities after the devastation of the foreclosure crisis. This victory is an important victory and we’ll be in DC on September 27 to make this victory a national one.”
Robbie Clark, Housing Rights Lead Campaign Organizer for Causa Justa / Just Cause in Oakland, CA, says, “This is a good first step that they are writing down the principals. We have more work to do to ensure principal reduction on all loans they are guaranteeing, not just in California but across the nation, and especially for the borrowers who have already lost their homes but are still in their homes. Those borrowers should be able to purchase back their homes at that real value. Our struggle and our fight is not over until that happens for borrowers across the nations.”
Margarita Ramirez, from Oakland, CA, is a member of Causa Justa/Just Cause and a homeowner who lost her house in the foreclosure crisis and is now renting. She says, “This is a great victory for homeowners. At the same time, we know that this crisis impacts both homeowners and tenants. There are 175 million CA tenants currently living in foreclosed properties and we need to ensure that as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are taking steps to relieve the impact on homeowners, they also have to relieve the impact on tenants by accepting rent from tenants, committing to fix units and maintain habitability and keeping utilities on for tenants in California and throughout the nation.”
Haiyde Calixto lives in Los Angeles and is a member of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. She lives as a tenant in a Fannie Mae foreclosed home. She says, “This is a great victory for homeowners but they are still ignoring responsibility as landlords to the tenants who have been paying rent, who have the right to live in healthy conditions or receive relocation assistance.” She and her family lived without electricity for 8 months this year. The apartment has black mold, roaches and holes in the floor where rats enter the home. Her kids suffer from respiratory conditions due to the mold in the home. They have been trying to get Fannie Mae to fix the home and earlier this summer, due to community pressure, Fannie Mae promised to fix the home and provide relocation assistance but they haven’t kept to their word and conditions continue.
Rose Gudiel, a member of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, says, “Fannie Mae’s participation in the Keep Your Home CA is a good initial step that will potentially allow thousands of hardworking homeowners like me stay in our homes long term and to continue making payments. I also hope Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac follow the lead of some private banks and begins its own principal reduction program.”
As part of the Right to the City Alliance Urban Congress in Los Angeles, members of community organizations from around the United States occupied an office in Pasadena, CA. They ended by chanting, “We’ll be back!”
You can be sure they will. They are going to DC to broaden their demands on September 27.
The Take Back the People’s Bank Campaign is convened by four national alliances: the Right to the City Alliance, the Home Defenders League, Occupy Our Homes, and Alliance for a Just Society. Other key organizations who have bottom-lined the week of actions include Mexico Solidarity Network, Chicago Anti-Eviction Network and the Moratorium Now Coalition.