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Jesse Jackson Takes Banks, Obama To Task On Foreclosures

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By Chris Levister –

The Rev. Jesse Jackson brought his signature charismatic activism to Loveland Church in Ontario and Victorville Sunday calling on banks to halt foreclosures during the holidays while criticizing President Barack Obama for bailing out banks and sending more troops to war at a time when the foreclosure crisis is putting more Americans on the street.

“Why should banks subsidized by the government and protected by insurance paid for by homeowners put people out of their homes at Christmas?” he said.

In a stirring speech punctuated by frequent applause, Jackson told congregants at the Sunday morning service in Ontario, “We are bailing out Herod and not the baby in the manger.”

Jackson, a long-time civil rights activist, founder of the Chicago-based Rainbow/P.U.S.H. Coalition, asked how many people in the audience could name someone looking for work. Nearly half of the 200 people stood up.

“How many of you know somebody facing foreclosure,” he asked. A third of the audience rose to their feet.

Churchgoer Lily Ealy and others quickly sat down when Jackson asked people in favor of escalating the war in Afghanistan to stand. Ealy who lost her home in January shouted “Amen – it’s not our war.”

Last week the President announced plans to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida and Taliban forces.

Jackson said while the California foreclosure tide may be turning, the fundamental forces driving foreclosure activity in this housing downturn, “high-risk mortgages, negative equity, and unemployment continue to loom over any nascent recovery.”

Jackson also visited Loveland Church in Victorville, where many foreclosed homes were being put up for auction. His trip was one of the many stops he has made to neighborhoods nationwide including San Francisco, Oakland and Modesto where the housing boom has given way to exploding ARMs, mortgage defaults and eviction notices.

He elicited loud applause when he accused banks of fattening themselves and their executives’ wallets by steering millions of Black and Latino homebuyers into high interest loans they could not afford.

“There is a national crisis as it relates to the number of foreclosures across this country and California is at the forefront largely due to lenders who take advantage of those who are already struggling,” said Rev. Jackson.

“We want to put power back into the hands of the every day citizen who is simply trying to hold on to his or her part of the American Dream.”

Attending the Jackson event, State Senate majority leader Dean Florez (D-Fresno) applauded Jackson’s call for lenders to conduct good faith negotiations with families who face foreclosure of their homes. He says he expects new legislation aimed at helping homeowners to be introduced in January.

Nevada, California and Florida posted the highest foreclosure rates out of all the states.

California had the second-highest rate, after Nevada, with one in every 156 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in October.

A total of 85,420 California properties received a foreclosure filing during the month, a decrease of 1% from the previous month but still nearly 50% above the total reported in October 2008, according to the report.

California’s default notices and scheduled foreclosure auctions were up 120% and 73% respectively from October 2008, when California foreclosure activity was in the midst of a three-month lull after a state law required lenders to give troubled homeowners extra notification before beginning foreclosure.

Under increasing pressure from members of his own party President Obama this week turned his attention to the high level of joblessness, but offered no promises.

He said he wanted to extend economic stimulus programs to keep unemployment insurance from expiring for millions of out-of-work Americans and to help laid-off workers keep their health insurance. He proposed an additional $250 apiece in stimulus spending for seniors and veterans and aid to state and local governments to discourage them from laying off teachers, police officers and firefighters.

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