Accountability has begun to wane for the crimes of the mortgage industry. They just extinguished some of their liability in an inadequate settlement. Bank of America won an appeal to move a venue for another settlement, this time with investors over mortgage-backed securities claims, that helps assure passage of that settlement (the new venue’s judge is notoriously bank-friendly). That deal, if agreed to, could set a precedent for how to deal with investors, erasing another big part of the banks’ liability.
Indeed, one of the few ways left for individuals to get some measure of justice is through the Occupy Our Homes movement. And they just notched a big victory yesterday.
As Phoenix Woman, who’s been following this, reported last night, Bobby Hull, not the old hockey player but a former Marine from Minneapolos, faced foreclosure and became one of the early objects for Occcupy Our Homes. Local groups waged a three-month public campaign, including declaring his street a “foreclosure-free zone” and camping out in the front yard.
Hull has lived in that home for 44 years. He bought it from his mother in 1971. But three years ago, Hull suffered the kind of medical catastrophe that often pushes people in this country to financial ruin. Bills arising from shoulder surgery, a collapsed lung and three heart attacks forced him to fall behind in his payments to Bank of America. They were ready to foreclose on the property when Occupy Homes Minnesota and the local community organizers Neighborhoods Organizing for Change stepped in. Hull became a cause célébre for the emerging Occupy Our Homes movement.
In a statement, Anthony Newby of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change said, “We hope that Bobby’s story will inspire communities around the country to stand up and fight against unfair and immoral foreclosures. His success is proof that we can win if we rally our friends and neighbors and stick together. Rather than a miracle, we look at this deal as one that’s appropriate for necessary if we’re going to get the American economy back on track.”
That’s actually true. I’ve found that the best example of successful foreclosure defense has come from direct action, whether from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment or Springfield No One Leaves in Massachusetts or Occupy Our Homes around the country. Saving homes one at a time is obviously not a national solution. But shining a light on the activities of the banks does have a lot of value, and if it saves people’s homes in the process, all the better.
More from Arthur Delaney and Matt Sledge. As Hull told them, “I want to feel really happy and glad about all this, but the word that I put out about this is that I’m not doing this to save my house, I’m doing this to fix the system. If they can modify this to help me, they can modify it for everyone else.”