Seattle, Washington - City Life/Vida Urbana's Organizing Coordinator, Steve Meacham, was the keynote speaker at SAFE in Seattle's first Radical Organizing Conference. Speaking to a crowd of 130 housing and social justice activists, Meacham presented City Life's organizing model and recent victories for homeowners and tenants. "In addition to a grievance," Meacham says, "we need hope...a sense of righteousness and a sense of power."
Watch the video for clips of his keynote presentation and an interview with a Seattle based housing justice activist.
February 17, 2015 -- Local activist, actor and singer-songwriter (and proud City Life member), Lovely Hoffman presented her powerful #BlackLivesMatterAnthem at Tuesday's Bank Tenant Association meeting. Click on the link below to view.
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to alter one of their policies relating to the sale of real estate owned (REO) properties in their current inventory. The change will permit the two companies to sell existing REO properties to any qualified purchaser at the property’s fair-market value, as determined by the Enterprises.
Prior to today’s directive, the Enterprises required homeowners who have been through foreclosure and want to buy their home back to pay the entire amount owed on the mortgage. This requirement similarly applied to anyone buying the home for the benefit of the previous homeowner. Under the new policy change for existing REO properties, former homeowners who are able to repurchase their home – or a third-party able to purchase on their behalf – may do so under the fair-market value policy that already applies to other purchasers of REO properties.
On November 19, 2014, the federal government argued in federal court that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – the government-sponsored banks that own half of all US mortgages – should not be subject to local, state, or federal laws. Ramón and Rosanna Suero, Dorchester residents, filed suit against Freddie Mac in November 2013 for violating a Massachusetts consumer protection statute intended to protect homeowners and stabilize communities, G.L. c. 244 sec. 35C. The Obama Administration, through the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), has intervened in the lawsuit, taking the position that the courts cannot restrain any illegal acts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
After nearly 2 years in housing court fighting eviction - and after 2 days of jury trial - the Omorodion family has won a significant victory in the fight to stay in their home. The settlement reached this week with corporate landlord City Realty:
Allows them to stay in their home with a lease renewable for 5 years at 3% rent increases
Provides significant compensation for valuable items removed from locked storage space
Enforces their right to notice prior to the landlord or its workers entering the apartment
A City Council hearing today is shaping up to be a showdown between Hub real estate owners and community groups who say the owners are unscrupulously pushing to evict longtime neighborhood residents so they can jack up rents.
“This should not be a city that’s only made up of million-dollar condos and million-dollar homes,” said Councilor Tito Jackson, who organized the hearing. “The objective is to hear all aspects of what is going on, and then look at the possible solutions that would lead us to a city where people who have been here through the hardest times are here through some of the best times that are ahead of us in this city.”
When Marilyn Mack received an email from a company she’d never heard of before asking her to send money, she assumed it was a scam.
The December 2012 email from A Sweet Lemonade LLC told her to “please provide the amount of the condo fee and bank instructions,” according to legal documents Mack’s lawyer submitted in court. Mack at first dismissed the message, but a year later, the 59-year-old transit authority worker was facing a court battle against A Sweet Lemonade and the threat of foreclosure and eviction from the Boston condo where she’s lived for six years.
Although Mack says she has always paid her mortgage on time—and unlike her neighbors in her three-unit building, survived the foreclosure crisis of 2010—she has been subject to a questionable practice that housing advocates are calling a “condo takeover scheme.” Real estate investors first buy up foreclosed condo units in a building, then take control of the building’s condo association, which allows them to set condo fees at whatever level they choose. Advocates say that by inflating these fees beyond what occupants can afford, they place longtime condo owners like Mack at risk of being priced out of their homes.
Frezzia Herrera is a teacher at a bilingual kindergarten and a resident of Roxbury, a neighborhood in Boston. She loves her neighborhood – taking walks in the nearby park and having a short commute. So her and her husband were shocked and disappointed when they received a letter informing them that their rent would go up $200 dollars starting the next month.