Start the Recovery — End Foreclosures

Our guest blogger is Bertha Lewis, CEO and Chief Organizer for ACORN.

Last Wednesday, a miracle happened. More than 30 people showed up at 6AM in front of a neighbor’s house to do one thing: save it from foreclosure. Martha and Eddie Daniels, tenants in the house in Oakland, California, were about to be evicted because their landlord had been taking their rent, but not paying the mortgage. The sheriff was coming to put them out, and the Daniels were in danger of joining the millions of families who have lost their homes in this crisis. But the community, working with ACORN members and staff, came together to say, “Not this time. Not here. Not now.”

ACORN members rallied their neighbors, spoke with local media, including one radio station that broadcast live from the home, and flooded the Sheriff’s office with calls urging compassion and forbearance of the scheduled eviction. Meanwhile, ACORN Housing Corporation worked furiously behind the scenes with the lender to negotiate a stay on the eviction, which successfully came through.

This is one story from the front lines of America’s economic meltdown, a crisis which contains one issue above all others at its heart: foreclosures. Watch this Brave New Films video highlighting the problem:

In 2008, more families faced foreclosure (2.3 million) than at any time since the Great Depression at a cost to the economy of at least $156 billion. If we do nothing, this cost could rise as high as $850 billion by 2012. ACORN members do not intend to let that happen. Building on the success in Oakland, ACORN’s campaign to address the foreclosure crisis is entering a new stage. In cities across the country, we are creating teams of community residents willing to stand with families in crisis.

Called the Home Defenders, this program is designed to help keep families in their homes and pressure elected officials to address this root cause of the economic collapse. It responds to the desperate calls for help found in the grim foreclosure statistics, and echoes the sentiments of leaders like Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who recently said, “Stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don’t leave.”

The Home Defenders program will kick off in cities across the country this coming weekend. For people who live in areas that will not have local organizers helping drive this program, ACORN is creating Home Defender Tool-Kits that help you fight back against the crisis in your neighborhood. We’re also partnering with Brave New Foundation to launch a new website called Fighting For Our Homes this week, which will enable people who face foreclosure all across the country to tell their stories and make their voices heard.

By showing that communities are refusing to participate in their own decimation, we will force elected officials to finally shift their emphasis from bailing out Wall Street to bailing out Main Street. Stand with us.