ACORN acting to stop home foreclosure epidemic

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 2.4 million U.S. homes are projected to foreclose as a result of recent subprime lending. ACORN offices have been taking action to inform homeowners at risk of losing their homes of the options available to them to avert foreclosure. They are also putting pressure on lenders and legislators to place a one-year moratorium on seizures.

A new study released March 26 by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit research group, showed Ohio to be the worst in the nation with regard to home foreclosures. The state's foreclosures were up 25 percent since last year with more than 79,000 homes at risk.

ACORN’s Cleveland office held an action May 3 to try to prevent an elderly woman and her son from being evicted from the home she has lived in since 1943, which had been purchased by her grandfather. Sharlena Adkins, 72, had fallen five or six months behind in payments on 2002 loan she had taken out to satisfy city code violations. Her son, Tyrone Shabazz, was making the payments, but lost his job. When they tried to resume payments, the company refused to renegotiate terms the family could afford. The county court has since given them a 30-day stay.

Cleveland ACORN member Mariah Crenshaw filed a lawsuit against her mortgage company, which attempted to foreclose on her home after she fell two months behind as a result of a back injury and a divorce.

“We’re being devastated,” Crenshaw said of the situation in Cleveland. “Katrina could not have hit us any worse because poor people are being hit.”

Crenshaw said her home loan was closed in three days despite a poor credit history, but she did not get the terms she had been promised. “They targeted me, knowing I wouldn’t be able to pay it back,” she said. Crenshaw said on her block there are 38 boarded-up homes that have been foreclosed, she said. Crenshaw chose to fight in court because she would otherwise lose $12,000 in equity.

Ohio ACORN members plan to protest Monday at the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s auction where 15,000 homes are scheduled be sold to the highest bidders. The Web site,, shows 2,828 foreclosed homes in the Cleveland area for sale.

ACORN members also leafleted at a Holiday Inn where a seminar was being held to inform investors about buying foreclosed homes. Somebody needs to do something now, Crenshaw said. “There was a 64 percent increase in foreclosures in Cuyahoga County in the past 12 months; 500 filed in March,” Crenshaw said. It can’t just be the people, but the companies that are at fault, she said.

ACORN has developed a 10-point plan to save homes and neighborhoods from predatory lenders. Those points include recommending a one-year moratorium by mortgage companies and Wall Street investors on all foreclosures involving subprime loans that were unaffordable. We also want mortgage lenders to change their practices, particularly adjustable rate loans and those which allow stated income. ACORN is demanding that Attorney Generals seek restraining orders and injunctions against foreclosures made through unfair or deceptive practices that violate consumer protection laws.

ACORN is reaching out to communities and also pressing for legislation at both the state and federal levels to protect families against predatory lenders and to investigate and prosecute them.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd issued a two-page “statement of principles” May 2 that suggested lenders should offer subprime borrowers other payment terms to avert foreclosures. These solutions might include changing the loans to fixed rates, reduced interest rates or reduced principals with longer terms. Among the groups involved in Dodd’s proactive stance - in addition to ACORN - were Mortgage Bankers Association, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Litton Loan Servicing, HSBC, Freddie Mac, the Self-Help Credit Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and AARP.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) also introduced federal legislation that would hold lenders financially liable for appraisers and brokers making deceptive loans.

“We want to make it harder for irresponsible brokers and nonblank lenders to sell mortgages that are designed to fail the homeowner and result in foreclosure,” Schumer told The Plain Dealer last week.

Click here for more information about Cleveland ACORN.

Tags: ACORN, adjustable rate loans, foreclosures, Ohio, subprime loans (all tags)


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