Detroit developers flee angry homeowners

From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters

Detroit, Mich.Nearly one-third of the city’s residential properties are blighted: vacant lots and dilapidated and abandoned houses. Not only are 42% of Detroit homeowners paying mortgages worth way more than their houses; even greater numbers face losing their homes to tax foreclosure. Below are comments from participants at an October protest at a Town Hall meeting in Detroit for Mel Watt, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

At the rally at Mel Watt’s Detroit Town Hall, 150 protesters outside called on him to keep people in their homes by reducing loan principal on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgages. UAW supporters came in large numbers from Ford Local 600 and UAW-GM. A vanload of Chicago activists from Centro Autonomo and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign joined us inside the town hall, where we managed to turn the agenda to principal reduction, a moratorium on foreclosures, and the rampant foreclosure fraud by servicers of Fannie/Freddie mortgages. We delivered the letter from Americans for Financial Reform and the list of Detroit organizations supporting principal reduction, a total of nearly 300 groups.

—S.B., Detroit Eviction Defense

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Watt came here to sell a program that won’t help Detroit. I was proud of our city, because so many people spoke from the heart about facing the loss of their homes. The realtors and developers in the audience couldn’t wait to get out of the hearing.

—J.D., Detroit Eviction Defense

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As the city wages a massive war on blight, we must stay organized so that neighborhoods are improved by and for people who have been here all along, not just clear-cut for developers to come in and profit off us all over again.

—S.V.G., Detroit

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