Foreclosures in the Union
By Melissa Lee
Foreclosure. The word, so ominous and uncomfortable, has wound its way into near-daily vernacular. We’ve been hearing about the bursting of the housing bubble for years now, but for many Americans it’s about more than just hearing; it’s seeing, feeling and experiencing. Long after it grows to be tiresome news for some, the effects of homeowners struggling with mortgage payments and foreclosures continues to impact people and communities all over the country. Borrowers feeling duped by banks and scandals involving robo-signers that made mistakes with dire consequences, has created an atmosphere of mistrust in the system, leading many to question when and how we are going to get back on track.
With over a million homes repossessed by banks last year, foreclosures are at an all-time high. The ripples of this are felt not only by the people losing their homes, but in the health of communities as a whole. Vacant houses are often not well maintained or monitored, causing property values of surrounding homes to drop, the possibility of criminality to rise and a general sense of destabilization to pervade.
Hearing stories of evictions due to foreclosure is always heartbreaking and one can’t help but wonder if it is time for a new economic model that will help people stay in their homes. Distressing as the news often is these days, there will always be those that seek to change the current tides. Organizations like Take Back the Land started by Max Rameau in Miami are trying to find ways to keep people in their homes, despite foreclosures, by staging protests during evictions, changing the locks of the doors of foreclosed houses and even filling vacant residences with homeless people. With its credo “Elevate housing to the level of a human right,” Take Back the Land seeks creative solutions to the problems facing our society as we experience the paradox of having too many people without homes even as numerous houses stand empty. These efforts, however, are not legally sanctioned, and members of the organization have been arrested for charges such as trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Our country’s current economic situation is not a comfortable one and times like these illustrate how interwoven our lives really are; how a community is healthy only when its members are thriving. This lesson is one that is learned through challenging times, but it can lead to a renewed sense of connection to humanity and a vision that in helping others, we help society and ourselves.
We Want to Know:
- Have you or someone you know been impacted by a foreclosure?
- How has it affected you or your community?
- What can residents do to pull together to help with neighbors who are facing foreclosure?
Get the conversation started below!
*Home page featured image by Nick Anfinsen.