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John Brown, a 68-year-old Vietnam vet and former firefighter, is happy in his one-bedroom unit in Bayview; it’s small but comfortable, clean and tidy. He’s at risk of losing his home. It’s an odd situation: Brown has no problem paying the rent, he’s not violating his lease, he gets along fine with his landlord, there’s no Ellis Act or Owner Move-in taking place. The building hasn’t been sold. He’s facing eviction because his apartment was built illegally – and now the city is cracking down. The tenants are appealing the demolitions to the Planning Commission, which will hear the case Thursday, July 27.
Building after building, block after block from the Bayview to Baltimore and from Sunnydale to East Oakland, the last vestige of so-called public – that is, government owned – housing in the richest country in the world lie dormant. Boarded up, locked, gated and shut – each apartment equipped with two, three and four bedrooms, one or two bathrooms and full kitchens.
At its last meeting of 2013, by a vote of 4-2, the Richmond City Council moved further along on its plans to stabilize our neighborhoods by restructuring the mortgages of underwater homeowners. Under the plan, mortgages would be reduced to a reasonable level that reflects their current value, which will give underwater homeowners some equity in the home and mortgage payments they can pay.
TV screens, newspaper pages and radio stations have been replaying, reprinting and rebroadcasting dark, grainy black and while film, photos and audiotape of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech – his “I Have a Dream” speech – in a hypocritical celebration of the 50 years since that fateful day in 1963, in Washington, D.C.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is at the forefront of the resistance to the foreclosures and illegal taking of homes by the banks. ACCE, the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League released a report March 12 entitled “California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline is Damaging Local Communities.”
Action is being taken to give some relief to those seeking some place safe to recreate “Home Sweet Home.” Prop C reads: “Shall the City amend its Charter to: create a Housing Trust Fund that supports affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income households; and change the affordable housing requirements imposed on some private residential developments?”
The Obama administration is pushing hard to privatize our nation’s 1.2 million public housing units, which would put public housing residents at risk of displacement and homelessness.
“I applaud and welcome the passage of H.R. 4173, The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” declared Congresswoman Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), several of whose members, led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, were responsible for the bill’s key provisions. "Nobody has more at stake here than Black America," says Kai Wright, senior writer for The Root.