Banks Out, Neighbors In
Washtenaw Eviction and Foreclosure Defense now has its own website: wefd.org
Inspired by the victories of Moratorium Now and Occupy Detroit as well as the foreclosure defense work across the nation, members of the Washtenaw Community Action Team, Occupy Ann Arbor and Occupy Ypsilanti have come together to form Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense (WFD).
Southeastern Michigan communities have been afflicted by high rates of foreclosures for the last decade. Detroit, for instance, topped the nation for highest number of foreclosures in 2007.
Even so, the rate of foreclosures reached epidemic proportions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, a crisis precipitated by the collapse of the housing bubble fueled in part by subprime loans and predatory lending practices that disproportionately targeted communities of color.
At the close of 2008, Washtenaw County had historic levels of foreclosures – 42% of which were accounted for by the City and Township of Ypsilanti.
The impact of the crisis registers in the social and economic impact it has on the family and the community as well as the stresses it places on local governments. As of December 2010, Washtenaw County has lost a projected $5 million in property tax due to foreclosure. When the banks put our neighbors on the street homes are left to deteriorate. Thus, while local revenues decrease, expenditures increase, as the local government is left to deal with the blight of neglected structures.
But the foreclosure crisis has an unmistakable human cost – one that continues to impact the lives of our neighbors in Washtenaw County.
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) reports that 80 percent of the homes foreclosed on during the fourth quarter of 2010 were owner occupied. In the first 9 months of 2011, 325 families between the City of Ypsilanti and the Township lost their home due to foreclosure.
The social and economic impact on displaced persons as well as the effects to their psychological and physical health is pernicious. Vacant structures present serious economic and safety hazards for the remaining neighbors leading to diminished property values and vandalism.
Foreclosures have the effect of making already vulnerable persons, communities and local governments more vulnerable, more susceptible to crime, poverty, and exploitation.
While state and local governments have provided foreclosure related assistance – whether housing counseling to persons facing imminent foreclosure or grants to maintain the blight – the crisis continues to outpace the response. The new reality of diminished financial resources for local municipalities and government relief programs in the age of austerity lessens the likelihood of a comprehensive response increasing the continued suffering of our neighbors and community.
WFD is committed to building a broad-based coalition of neighborhood associations, the inter-faith community, social justice and labor organizations, students, and community members to keep the banks out and our neighbors in their homes through know your rights trainings, legal resources, existing governmental and non-profit programs, political action, and direct action.
We will work with all available resources through the local and state government as well as non-profit organizations to help keep our neighbors in their homes.
One of the most important things we are doing at this moment is knocking on doors and having individual conversations with our neighbors about the things affecting them the most in their neighborhoods. It is in these conversations that we can build the relationships and power necessary to achieve our objectives.
For more information about Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense write or call us at
Download our flier here – WFD Flier