As an organizer with Moratorium Now, a coalition to stop foreclosures in Michigan, Sandra Hines, a 55-year–old Black woman, is waging a battle so that nobody else will face what she has. “What I’m doing is fighting back,” she said. Fighting tears, she told me, “I never imagined we’d be in this place. We lost our foundation as a family. I moved into that house when I was 18 years old. It was our base.” The Sheriff’s office arrived at the Hines family home one day, put all their belongings into a dumpster and padlocked the door. The family could not make the payments on the house after they were slapped with a predatory loan. Now, Hines is facing a second foreclosure as the landlord of the apartment where she lives with two sisters and a niece has been unable to make his mortgage payments. They will be without a roof over their head in 10 days. The story is repeated over and over again in Detroit where whole blocks of Black family homes and those of other families of color have foreclosed. A 30-year-old an Iraqi woman, lets call her A, who has lived in Detroit for 15 years, expects that she and her 4 children (17, 15, 14, and 12) will lose their home in 4 months. Last year she was laid off from her job as a teacher’s assistant and has since been unable to make payments on her home. If nothing changes, if she does not find work, she says she will be homeless and imagines herself out on the street. “I don’t know what we will do”. To make matters worse, because of welfare work requirements, her public assistance was cut off when she lost her job. Without a home to be based from and 4 kids to take care of, finding work (at least work that is valued as such since raising children is not) will only become harder. Groups like Moratorium Now are fighting so that other families can stay rooted in their homes but foreclosures are still rolling through communities of color at breakneck speeds. Like scores of other families of color, A and Sandra have been abandoned, literally cast out without any support. And their circumstances were entirely avoidable; the product of policy and practice. What we owe these families is huge. Moratorium Now!
By Seth Freed Wessler Jan 27, 2009