Michigan home foreclosure protest set
Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News,
DETROIT -- A group of anti-war protesters is taking aim at the staggering home foreclosure crisis gripping much of the country, and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is caught in the crosshairs as well.
The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice plans to protest the governor's annual State of the State address Jan. 29, in an attempt to force Granholm to declare a financial state of emergency and impose a five-year ban on home foreclosures.
"We have an unmitigated disaster in Michigan," said Detroiter Jerry Goldberg, an attorney who is a member of the group that met Saturday to discuss strategy. "This is a practical step. It gives people a chance and it gives the community a chance to determine a long-term answer. Otherwise, you are putting a thumb in a breaking dam."
In Metro Detroit alone, more than 70,000 homes have received a foreclosure filing since January 2006.
The foreclosure rate set a record high in January 2006, and has increased sixfold since then. Predatory lenders and mortgage companies that approved risky mortgages with escalating interest rates are being blamed for the problem, along with homebuyers who signed those mortgages and now can't pay.
Goldberg said those numbers are enough to justify the action he seeks, which is similar to one taken in the 1930s which blocked foreclosures for six months.
Since the current problem is worse than the one in the 1930s, the five-year ban is needed, he said. The group will ask the Detroit City Council next week to pass a resolution asking the governor to take action. The resolution is a non-binding request, but carries symbolism.
"There is no other answer than a moratorium," Goldberg said.
But the governor believes otherwise. She has advocated a package of bills aimed at helping homeowners. It was approved by the state House approval and is pending in the Senate.
Granholm also supports legislation targeting mortgage company licensing and predatory lenders, said Liz Boyd, her spokeswoman.
"Our goal is to assist," Boyd said. "This obviously is a national issue and the governor has shown leadership in Michigan. We are hopeful the state Senate will take (the legislation) up."
You can reach Santiago Esparza at (313) 222-2127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.