This monthly feature was conceived by writer and Nation editorial board member Walter Mosley as a kind of do-it-yourself opinion and action device. Most often “Ten Things” will offer a brief list of recommendations for accomplishing a desired political or social end, sometimes bringing to light something generally unknown. The purpose of the feature is to go to the heart of issues in a stripped-down, active and informed way. After getting our visiting expert–or everyday citizen–to construct the list, we will interview that person and post a brief online version of “Ten Things,” with links to relevant websites, books or other information. Readers who wish to propose ideas for “Ten Things” should e-mail us at [email protected] or use the e-form at the bottom of this page.
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Without resolving the chicken-egg question of which came first, the housing crisis or the banking crisis, we can say that the pace of foreclosures is accelerating with the downward economic slide. Every thirteen seconds, an American loses his/her home. In 2008, more than 2.3 million families faced foreclosure. If the government doesn’t intervene in a muscular way, an estimated 6 million owners will lose their homes in the next three years. President Obama has proposed to attack the crisis with a $75 billion initiative, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. A commendable effort to directly address the problems faced by homeowners, the bill nevertheless has inherent limitations on who can benefit from it.
As a kind of home remedy, so to speak, The Nation and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) have issued a useful list of ten ways to prevent or fight foreclosure.
Make sure your loan has a fixed rate of interest and not a variable rate. If it has variable rate, work with your mortgage lender to get it to a lower fixed rate.
Seek out HUD-certified counselors when you are thinking of refinancing. Contact only nonprofit agencies such as the Legal Aid Society. You do not have to pay a fee to get out of foreclosure.
If you are being foreclosed, call the ACORN foreclosure hot line immediately, at (347) 410-5894.
Do not take out loans that are beyond your financial means. Do not make payments to any institution except your lender.
If you are a renter in a house that has been foreclosed, your landlord must give you notice before evicting you. Once you are given notice, find out how much time you have–the laws vary from state to state. Click here for renters’ rights in a particular state. Go to nolo.com, for more information. (If you have info or resources on renters’ rights, please send an e-mail to [email protected].)
Avoid companies that promise a quick fix. Go to Fraud Guides to see a list of scams.
If you believe you are in a foreclosure scam, contact a lawyer immediately. Visit the National Association for Consumer Advocates or the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance. Always use an attorney with a background in representing families in foreclosure.
Stay in communication with your bank, and always ask questions when you don’t understand something that was said or something that you read. Go to the Center for Responsible Lending for an explanation of foreclosure terms.
Support ACORN and other organizations that assist families with foreclosures: Center for Community Change, Take Back the Land, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Housing Assistance Council and National Housing Law Project.
Watch testimonials on the Brave New Films website, fightingforourhomes.com.
Call your local ACORN chapter for help. Volunteer to be a home defender in your area. Display an ACORN Foreclosure-Free Zone sign in front of your house or apartment. Tell family and friends facing foreclosure to seek counseling from ACORN, and tell Congress to keep families in their homes. Go to acorn.org and click here for more information on advocacy.
CONCEIVED by WALTER MOSLEY
with research by Rae Gomes