In response to Occupy Wall Street’s Call for a “National Day of Action,” regarding the millions of families facing fraudulent foreclosure, I teamed up with my local Occupy, here, in Charleston, SC, to help raise awareness about this issue in our community. The document you are about to read will be printed off, handed out, and placed in local businesses in support of the movement. Please feel free to comment below if you, yourself, or someone you know is facing foreclosure.
Owning a home is a paramount feature to building a proper family; it is indicative of a person’s pursuit of the lofty American Dream. The home is a foundation, a bedrock, a place where familial bonds are fostered, where values pass from parent to child. It is a source of economic relevance; the home is where the heart is; it provides privacy from the everyday rigors of public scrutiny with the reaffirming familial shelter of love. Unfortunately, the heart of America is failing: predatory lending frustrates the mislead homebuyer by presenting loans that, at first glance, seem most beneficial, but at the mercy of speculation, become the noose that chokes the life from the American dream. It creates homeless families out of those who faithfully believed in the pursuit of happiness, trusted the government, and invested in the foundation of the future. Directions to fulfill this recipe include, but are not limited to: a college education, a career choice that hopefully correlates with your area of study, perhaps wedding with your soul mate, the infamous mortgage loan for your very first home, some responsible saving, and then boom, like that, the babies are born and the cycle begins to repeat itself. Unfortunately, in this day in age, the “American Dream” is skewed, and even if you meet the partner of your dreams, climb your way out of student debt, and end up with a career that you can excel in, you still face unlawful encounters with large banking foundations like Citigroup and Bank of America, both of which have colluded with our government to commit crimes against the heart of our country. In a country built upon the back of accountability, lawfulness, and competent adjudication, the most perplexing perpetrators of fiscal infidelity continue to subsist. Our government perversely punishes the family, for trusting in the American way, and rewards the predator for continually defaulting on its responsibility to honor its source of success. These economic institutions were labeled as ” too big to fail.” They were given solvency by “borrowing” tax dollars from those very individual families that these banks now look to evict from their dreams, all in the name of making a profit. If a family unable to pay their bills results in eviction, then shouldn’t a corporation unable to maintain solvency result in a similar fate: a failed business?
Currently, this is not what is happening and this situation is a symptom of a much larger problem that leaves many innocent people finding themselves homeless, while top officials are left, as Frank Partnoy, a highly regarded securities lawyer and an expert on Sarbanes Oxley puts it, “merely slapped on the wrists.”
In 2006 Citigroup moved forward, knowingly, with more than 60% of defective mortgages, and in 2007 that number increased by 20% making Citigroup responsible for 80% of inadequate mortgages. If that doesn’t make your blood boil, perhaps Countrywide’s part in the corruptive process will. Countrywide, our nation’s largest mortgage loaner, went as far as to forge, cut, copy, and paste signatures to move forward and lend to clients with bad credit. The loan officers who took part in these criminal activities received bonuses and were still compensated regardless of the quality of the loan.
The foreclosure crisis stems from lending business’ attempts to approve home loans faster than ever. New programming software was created, called automatic underwriting, which allows a computer program to instantly scan thousands upon thousands of credit scores to seek out those who may have sub-par credit scores and have been previously denied a loan. Predatory banks saw this class of “sub-prime” mortgagors as an untapped market, and started approving loans based on the computer program, rather than on actual verification that family’s had the assets to back them up, or even the income to eventually pay them back. Many families, eager to partake in the “American Dream,” have fallen prey to this predatory lending scheme, find themselves living in homes for which they cannot afford payments, and/or have been served with eviction and foreclosure notices. Renters are also being foreclosed on as their landlords fail to make payments to the bank- many tenants have no suspicion of a financing problem. The traditional way of approving loans, through tedious yet thorough research as to a borrower’s financial situation, has been replaced with the current system which allows for the oft-talked about “sub-prime” loan.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “If Americans ever allowed the control of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless.” Today, in America, one in every four homes is facing foreclosure and in just Charleston County, alone, 2,281 homes are at risk. (foreclosures.com) Space in shelters for families facing fraudulent foreclosure is limited, and threatens an increase in homelessness, which will lead to an increase in crime.
In response to the greed put fourth by irresponsible loaners, the Occupy Wall St. movement is honoring December 6th, 2011, as a National Day of Action to hold hands with the innocent trapped in the foreclosure crisis. Charleston stands in solidarity and supports this battle cry in a peaceful attempt to reclaim our democracy. Banks got bailed out, and the American dream got molested, abused, defrauded and sold out!
Over the past few weeks Occupations have moved into rural neighborhoods occupying households in attempt to stall or block foreclosure, or at best prevent greedy banks from unjust obtainment of property.
If you or somebody you know is at risk please visit Occupyourhomes.org and share your story.
This article was collaboratively written by Jessica Dugan and Ty Washington, members of Occupy Charleston. Sparleberrylane.com wants to here from your local Occupy and see how you’ve impacted your community. Please contact Sparkleberrylane@gmail.com for further inquiries.
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