In Georgia, the ease with which someone can lose a home is staggering.
A foreclosure-eviction can occur without judicial review in just35 days, and at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month, the state’s159 counties hold a sheriff’s auction of foreclosed homes.
That translated to 1,500 homes for sale in Atlanta on September 1. Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition–including 125ministers from throughout the south–were in town to try to stop theauction.
They appealed to both Citibank and Wells Fargo to withdraw homes fromthe sale. Citi pulled thirty of its forty properties and will restructurethose mortgages. Wells Fargo is still considering its response. Jackson commended Citi for taking “courageous action” but also notedthat there is a need for a “massive restructuring” to truly stem thetide of foreclosures.
“The systematic hemorrhaging of foreclosures is outdistancing by farthe loan modifications,” Jackson said in a recent interview. “We’vegiven a massive blood transfusion to the banks, but it’s not linked tostopping the hemorrhaging at the bottom. We’re taking care of a headwound…but the aorta is gushing.”
Indeed, as of June 30, 1.5 million homes had gone into foreclosure and 2.4 million are expected to foreclose by the end of the year. Thirteen million foreclosures are projected over the next five years. The crisis has also spread to prime loans– they now represent 27 percent of foreclosed loans, “up from 17percent during the comparable 2008 period,” according to McClatchyNewspapers. Nationwide, 23 percent of homeowners are now “under water”–owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Meanwhile,only about 10 percent of homeowners eligible for relief under the Obamaadministration’s anti-foreclosure plan have received help.
“That leaves 90 percent to the bankers without an incentive torestructure loans rather than repossess homes,” Jackson said. “Rightnow, the government is going house by house by house by house–likedipping a spoon in the ocean. There’s a structural abnormality…thatwill not work. It’s like if you’re going for the right to vote–goingcity by city by city by city…or do you have a federal restructuringof the right to vote? Period.”Jackson is outraged that the banks–even subprime lenders, some of whom engaged in “redlining and targeting, steering and clustering“–received a bailout, and are now profiting, with “no linkage to use the bailout to modify loans.”