FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday March 19th, 2013
Members of New England Anti-Displacement Network (NEWROAD) Interrupts House Hearing, Urge Replacement of FHFA Head and Demand Principal Reduction. 5 Arrested during Protest.
Dozens of vigils, eviction blockades, and bank protests each month at 10 different sites.
Springfield No One Leaves: Malcolm Chu (718-666-6872)
City Life: Melonie Griffiths (617-524-3541 x315) and Steve Meacham (x310 or 617-909-6182)
Three Massachusetts residents interrupted a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee this morning, urging President Obama and Congress to replace FHFA head Ed DeMarco and give loan modifications with principal reduction. The head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency had barely begun his testimony when NEW ROAD member and Dorchester resident Ramon Suero loudly and dramatically interrupted; Suero’s fight to stay in his condo has been gaining prominence on the national stage as national coalitions have circulated petitions and pressuring the Freddie Mac to negotiate with Suero.
“DeMarco is kicking my family out of my home. Dump DeMarco! Principal Reduction now!” chanted Ramon Suero as he interrupted DeMarco’s speech. “Ed DeMarco’s policies are putting my three kids, my wife, and I out on the street. If the President doesn’t get rid of him, he’s responsible for putting millions of Americans just like me on street as well.” Suero was one of the five people arrested.
See the video of Suero interrupting Ed DeMarco in this morning’s hearing: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4391418
See a copy of Suero’s petition to Pres. Obama to stop DeMarco from kicking him out of his house:
For the last year, the New England Workers and Residents Organized Against Displacement (NEW ROAD) Network had been focusing its efforts on a campaign to oust the FHFA administrator, as well as condemning unfair and illogical policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two giant government supported banks were bailed out with TARP money and recently put under regulation by a new agency, FHFA. They own half the mortgages in America and are among the worst offenders in working out solutions with homeowners.
Specifically, FHFA blocks them from doing principal reduction, which would solve the foreclosure problems of millions of underwater homeowners. Fannie and Freddie are offering sales to investors and hedge funds at real value but refuse to sell for the same money to any non-profit that might sell back to the former owner or rent to the former owner! For this reason, NEW ROAD has sent busloads of members to national rallies, engaged in actions of civil disobedience, organized vigils and eviction blockades to defend against Fannie-Freddie evictions and held mock trials and protested at the home of FHFA director Ed DeMarco to demand that President Obama fire him and do principal reduction. Increasingly, elected officials and Attorney’s General across the country are joining the call.
This pressure reached a boiling point last week, when hundreds of activists gathered across the region, calling for Federal and local officials to preserve and expand access to affordable, community controlled and public housing throughout the country. The NEW ROAD Network and UNITE Here Local 26 arranged a meeting with Federal Housing Finance Administration Chief Counsel Alfred Pollard. He came to negotiate with groups fighting against Fannie and Freddie, which his agency oversees, over their refusal to grant principal reduction and their post-foreclosure eviction policies. Following the 50-delegation meeting with FHFA Chief Counsel Pollard last Wednesday, the Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley met with Pollard as well. Coakley has publicly called for principal reduction and DeMarco’s ouster. These meeting came as a result of an aggressive campaign in Boston to prevent the eviction of Suero, who is offering to buy back his condo in cash at real value, one of many regional campaigns building increased pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In Springfield, a threatened eviction blockade last Wednesday, forced Fannie Mae to call off the eviction of Jeffery Solivan and agree to negotiate.
After this high-stakes meeting, on Wednesday March 13 2013, residents throughout New England organized mass actions as part of the “Homes For All” campaign. In Boston, 150 demonstrated at Fannie Mae offices and in front of a vacant building in Chinatown, condemning slumlords and speculators as well as banks refusing to negotiate with former homeowners. In Springfield, 120 held a ‘housing crisis tour’ of the good, the bad and the ugly of foreclosed buildings and housing cooperatives, and held a rally in front of a vacant city-owned home to bring light to the housing crisis and demand Homes for All. The next night they turned out for a City Council meeting to preserve one of the strongest ordinances in the country against Wall St. Bank foreclosures. In Providence, a vigil supported new legislation that would stop Banks from evicting tenants in foreclosed buildings “no-fault”. Banks would have to have a reason to evict. Their bill is similar to one passed in Massachusetts in 2010.
These events and a dozen more each month are carried out by the NEW ROAD (New England Workers and Residents Organizing Against Displacement) network, a region-wide network of resident-led organizations mobilizing against bank foreclosures and evictions. There are currently 10 sites in New England where residents facing foreclosure or living in foreclosed buildings meet regularly to plan campaigns and support each other. For the last two years, these sites have been coordinating rallies and actions against Wall St. Banks unwilling to do principal reduction or sell back to occupants at real value after foreclosure, and to defend families against unnecessary evictions.
“We’ve come together across the region to form NEW ROAD, because together we are stronger and form a powerful movement,” says Deb Nowell, a NEW ROAD member in Springfield and a former owner fighting Fannie Mae. “Each NEW ROAD chapter is composed and led by the people directly fighting foreclosure and eviction.”
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The New Bottom Line is a national coalition fueled by a coalition of community organizations including PICO National Network, National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, and Right to the City. We are community groups, congregations and individuals working together to build a movement that challenges established big bank interests on behalf of struggling and middle-class communities.