Sure, it has been an unusually warm winter for us in New England, but that’s not why more than 150 activists took to the streets with snorkels and swimsuits today in the financial district.
Sporting goggles, flippers and life preservers, demonstrators marched on the big banks today to call attention to the scourge of underwater mortgages. Foreclosure victims lead by City Life and New England’s Bank Tenant Associations were joined by allies from MASSUNITING and the Occupy movement in calling on financial institutions to take meaningful steps to address the mortgage crisis. Their primary demand of JP Morgan Chase, Fannie Mae, Bank of America and other big banks: reduce the principal owed on underwater homes.
“Millions of homes are underwater due to the greed of Bank of America, Fannie Mae, JP Morgan Chase and the rest of the big banks,” said Melonie Griffiths, an organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana. “They’re directly responsible for the mortgage crisis, and it’s about time they did something to clean up their wreckage and help drowning homeowners.”
More than 25% of mortgages are underwater nationwide – meaning the amount owed on the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. This growing problem has become one of the driving factors behind the ongoing mortgage crisis, leading many analysts to agree that comprehensive principal reduction is the only plausible path to reversing course. Yet, most major financial institutions have flatly refused to take the necessary steps to address the crisis.
“The big banks took trillions in taxpayer bailouts, but refuse to take even the simplest steps to get our economy back on track,” said Antonio Ennis, a Dorchester resident fighting foreclosure from Bank of America. “That’s why we’re marching today – we kept the big banks afloat, now it’s time for them to throw us a lifeline.”
President Obama has called on financial institutions to take action on principal reduction – even going as far as to provide incentives to participating firms. But the administration has yet to forward hard requirements, and the major banks have been largely unwilling to comply.
Monday’s march was organized by the Bank Tenant movement in New England – led by City Life/Vida Urbana, Chelsea Collaborative, and other community groups. The Bank Tenant movement organizes in nine cities across New England, with each group demanding reductions of principal to real value and an end to no-fault evictions after foreclosure.