The human rights agenda: Metro Justice's housing vision

The human rights agenda: Metro Justice's housing vision

Article written to look at the Metro Justice's Housing Committee, created by housing justice activists to add dimension to Rochester's housing movement and to support Take Back the Land Rochester.

Since 2008 the glaring inequalities around the housing market have become crystalized in the minds of working class people around the country. As our futures were bought and sold through the deregulated securities process, we were prepared for a massive relocation from the foreclosures that followed. Today the big banks are foreclosing on people at record rates, using systemic fraud and unethical business practices to do that. In many cities, and especially Rochester, neighborhoods are become decimated war zones where the banks are aggressively evicting people who have often lived there for decades.

As part of Metro Justice’s campaign for economic justice, the Housing Committee is setting forward on a plan to target this issue head on. First, it is taking a look at the biggest offender in New York State: JPMorgan Chase. When it comes to working with customers who are behind, setting up modifications, or generally re-negotiating, Chase Bank has been the worst. Unfortunately, much of the City of Rochester’s money is held in Chase Banks. We are calling on the City of Rochester to divest its funds from Chase because of their unfair business practices, fraudulent history, and all out assault on our community. We can then join with Hempstead, Binghamton, and, most recently, Buffalo, in moving our money elsewhere. This will be a concerted statement to Chase, and all the other mammoth financial institutions, that we are not going to tolerate their policies in our city.

The second aspect of our Housing as a Human Right campaign is to call on the city to place a one-year moratorium on foreclosure based evictions. Fraud among the large banks, many of which have been bailed out, has become so systemic that it is difficult to find one that is not under investigation. In a recent San Francisco study it was found that eighty-four percent of all foreclosures had outright fraud on the part of the banks, and that ninety-nine percent had banking irregularities. These fraudulent institutions do not have the necessity to prove their transactions have been processed legally and as they clear out large portions of our neighborhoods the city have been complicit in this forgery in that they provide resources to execute the evictions. We are asking for the city to no longer provide any resources, such as police support, for these evictions. This is to say that the city will not participate in putting people out of their homes when the banks are clearly operating in a way that is unaccountable, immoral, and likely illegal. What this will do is give people in foreclosure a longer period to renegotiate or find other options, it will shut down the expanding homeless population and swath of empty homes, and will allow the local government and community leaders a year to try and figure out a way to set up a more permanent solution to our foreclosure issue.

At the Metro Justice Housing Committee we feel that housing is a human right and will continue to struggle to make the City of Rochester a supporter of working people instead of those who are now “too big to fail.”

Originally published at Metro Justice, and also click to learn more about the campaigns.