NEW YORK—Struggling homeowners and ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) were at City Hall on Wednesday demanding immediate help as the housing crisis continues on ‘Main Street,’ despite focus on how to help Wall Street through the current financial crisis.
Dozens of homeowners, including those already facing foreclosure, turned in symbolic applications for assistance from the new “FHA Hope for Homeowners” program that was scheduled to be up and running by Wednesday, October 1.
Pat Boone, President of NY ACORN, said much of the recent bailout debate has missed the point. “One day last week, people who have been saying everything is fine, finally decided we are in a crisis and something had to be done,” said Boone. “We’ve known there was a foreclosure crisis for more than a year, and nothing Congress has done so far will make a dent in the struggles on Main Street.”
Jocelyn Voltaire, who has twice refinanced her home and is now facing foreclosure after losing her grocery store during the illness of her son and mother, called on Washington to support homeowners directly.
“This isn’t a new problem,” said Voltaire. “Families like mine need to know that the roof over our heads isn’t going anywhere—and we’ve been afraid of that for a long time now. Washington needs to send relief directly to homeowners, not through Wall Street who got us into this mess.” Voltaire’s son was killed fighting in Iraq and her other son is disabled.
Foreclosures are continuing at a record pace. Millions of Americans are teetering on the brink of losing their homes. According to ACORN, as long as foreclosures continue, home prices will fail to stabilize and Wall Street’s mortgage-backed assets will continue to lose value and remain illiquid.
ACORN states that nothing in the proposed federal bailout of Wall Street does anything substantial to impact the foreclosure crisis that caused and continues to deepen the broader financial crisis.
“We must press for solutions to the underlying problem, unaffordable mortgages that families cannot afford,” Val Holder, ACORN leader added. Some of the solutions she said were imperative include:
• The Hope for Homeowners program up and running.
• A real commitment from Secretary Paulson to pursue aggressive modifications of the mortgages underlying the assets purchased by Treasury.
• The government decisively using its conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to achieve sustainable modifications
• Bankruptcy reform so judges can restructure some mortgages on principle residences to affordable terms.
“As shown by the massive number of homeowners still in urgent need of help, this crisis is far from over and demands leadership commensurate with the enormity of the challenges we face,” concluded Holder.