Atlanta Fighting Foreclosure Coalition
Atlanta Fighting Foreclosure Coalition
Formed in April 2009 following a community forum at the First Iconium Baptist Church, By late 2010 Fighting Foreclosure Coalition represented 41 member organizations: labor unions; civil rights, civil liberties, human rights and peace and justice groups; homeless shelters; and faith-based organizations.
In late 2010, the Coalition co-chairs were:
- Charlie Flemming (Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council)
- Vincent Fort (State Senator),
- Barbara Joye (Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America)
- Dianne Mathiowetz (International Action Center)
- Rev Tim McDonald (First Iconium Baptist Church)
- Larry Pellegrini (Georgia Rural Urban Summit)
- Eric Richardson (Communication Workers of America Local 3204)
- Milt Tambor (Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America).
Following the arrest of five activists in East Point on August 31 2009, Wells Fargo/Wachovia finally consented to meet with the Coalition. In October the bank pulled 1,000 homes off the auction list and reached settlements with ALAS and ten of their clients after months of stonewalling. At a hearing held by the Domestic Policy Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee chaired by Dennis Kucinich on November 2 in the State Capitol, the presence of the Coalition was also felt. Both Senator Vincent Fort and ALAS Home Defense Program Director Bill Brennan provided testimony about sub-prime loans and predatory lending practices. Senator Fort described the Coalition's efforts to put in place a moratorium on foreclosures and implement loan modifications that would reduce loan balances, lower interest rates, convert adjustable rates to fixed rates and use reverse mortgages for senior citizens. Bill Brennan graphically outlined the securitization process used by banks to promote the packaging of sub-prime loans targeting the elderly and minority and low-income communities.
The Coalition has adopted a two-prong strategy aptly described by a Boston community organizer as the "sword and the shield.” Referrals to and legal representation by ALAS constitute the shield. Thrusting the banks into the glare of the public eye by picketing and civil disobedience acts as the sword. The effective mobilizations at Wells Fargo and Bank of America can be directly attributed to a loyal brigade of activists who are prepared to demonstrate at a moment's notice. Word has also spread about the Coalition’s work. Members have been contacted by activists from Tallahassee, Boston, Columbus (Georgia) and Jobs with Justice.
As part of a nationwide anti-foreclosure movement, the Atlanta Fighting Foreclosure Coalition advocates "progressive solutions" to the foreclosure crisis. The Coalition views the administration's Making Home Affordable program (MHA) as inadequate. While the program allows participants to pay 31% of their monthly income to stay in their homes, it limits eligibility to homeowners who are not "underwater," thereby requiring the current home value to be at least equal to the purchase price
Benefit Party for the Foreclosure Five
A party to raise funds for the Foreclosure Five Defense Fund was held at 7 pm on Friday, January 22 2010, at the Communication Workers of America Local 3204 Hall on 279 Logan Street. The Foreclosure Five were arrested on August 31 for refusing to leave a Wells Fargo branch office in East Point until a bank official would meet and hear the demands of the Atlanta Fighting Foreclosure Coalition. Those arrested included: Reginald Eaves, Charlie Flemming, State Senator Vincent Fort, Dianne Mathiowitz and Milt Tambor. The case of criminal trespass was moved from East Point to Fulton County after the five defendants continued to enter a "not guilty" plea rather than plead guilty to a lesser charge. As yet, no date has been set for the hearing. The monies raised will go toward the defense provided by "Peoples' Attorney" Brian Spears at the hearing and a possible trial.
The dynamic reggae band, I-Tegrity, performed. It will be a jamming party for a good cause. "If you can't come to the benefit but would like to make a contribution to the fund, send checks payable to Brian Spears with the notation "Foreclosure Five Defense" and mail to: Brian Spears, 1126 Ponce DeLeon Avenue, Atlanta GA 30326."