The following is a guest editorial by Jon Kest, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change.
For the past two years, New York Communities for Change members have seen firsthand the damage that the foreclosure crisis has caused in our communities. Together we’ve watched vacant, boarded-up houses pop up on block after block in Southeast Queens and parts of Brooklyn. We’ve stood with homeowners as they told their stories about sending document after document to their banks in hopes of getting a mortgage modification, only to have the bank lose those documents time and time again. We’ve shared their frustration and despair as foreclosures in the community drag down the value of their homes -- making the mortgage they are struggling to pay much higher than what their home is worth.
We at NYCC have seen the real face of the foreclosure crisis; they live in the neighborhoods we organize in; they are our members and they are the family of our members. The homeowners we organize are living proof that in America, if you get sick, or hurt, or laid off through no fault of your own, you will be punished. But the big banks that caused the economic crisis will be left to collect record-breaking bonuses paid for with a bailout that was funded by our tax dollars.
That’s why, for the past 12 months, NYCC has been engaged in a fight to get JP Morgan Chase to reform its mortgage modification policies, and it’s why we’re excited to be joining Occupy Wall Street and community groups from around the country to defend brave families who are taking back homes for the community.
While shelters are overfull and thousands more rely on friends and family to house them, too many homes sit vacant at the hands of the banks. But starting tomorrow, the 99 percent is banding together to say enough is enough. I am proud that NYCC will be among the many taking part in tomorrow’s national day of actions.
Tomorrow we will gather in East New York, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that has been profoundly impacted by foreclosures, and the economic crisis at large, to welcome one brave family to the neighborhood. This family, that has struggled to keep a roof over their heads since the onset of the financial crisis, is sending a message to the big banks: You created the economic disaster that we find ourselves in, you need to fix it. And that starts by keeping families in their homes.
I hope I’ll see many friendly faces in East New York tomorrow joining NYCC, OWS and community groups from across NYC as we stand up for the 99 percent. Check out the Facebook Event Page for More Details.
[Editors Note: Readers, if any of you participate in the Occupy Homes action today, I hope you'll take a moment to share your experience either by sending us an email, or posting in the comments section. Thank-you!]