What if thousands of underwater homeowners joined together and put so much pressure on government officials and big banks that there was no choice but to offer widespread principal reduction on every single one of the millions of underwater homes across the country?
Today, The New Bottom Line and National People's Action are teaming up with Rebuild the Dream to launch America Underwater, a campaign devoted to putting faces to the millions of underwater American families and escalating pressure on big banks and government officials like FHFA director Ed DeMarco to commit to widespread principal reduction.
- Explore an interactive national map showing the devastating losses due to underwater mortgages in your state and see what principal reduction would mean for your state.
- See stories of American families who are underwater or who have already lost their homes in the foreclosure crisis or share your own story.
- Learn about underwater mortgages, how they are a drag on the broader economy, how principal reduction is the best way to help fix the crisis, and how the crisis affects you, even if you're not an underwater homeowner.
Here are some truths that we've learned recently during the fight for principal reduction. First, most foreclosures occur in some sort of dubious circumstance according to recent studies. Second, banks and mortgage owners will give homeowners the run-around or say that their loan can't be modified, right up until the moment that a particular case makes it on to the local news or an online petition. Then the banks are suddenly ready to make a deal to keep the family in their home and avoid bad press.
That's why America Underwater has so much potential power: it will give a vast, human face to the ongoing foreclosure crisis. Putting a face to a foreclosure case forces the banks to act. If we can show thousands of faces, we can put much more pressure on big banks and government officials like Ed DeMarco and force them to commit to broad principal reduction.
Take the case of Monique White who is facing eviction from her foreclosed home after missing just two payments when she lost her job as a social worker because of budget cuts and had to rely on a much smaller income to feed her family from what had been a second job. After Monique took action with Occupy Homes MN, her story gained enough attention that Representative Keith Ellison spoke out on Monique's behalf and the state Attorney General asked US Bank to halt the eviction so that the state could investigate further. The bank and Freddie Mac have refused the request.
Some small but good news came on Monday, March 5th, the day that was Monique was scheduled to appear in court to face eviction. The court has moved the court date to Friday, March 9th.
There's also the case of Vera Johnson, who was facing foreclosure on her home and small, community business. Vera was successful in winning a modification on her loan after taking action with Washington CAN and Alliance for a Just Society, but she's realistic about the fact that without principal reduction on her underwater mortgage, she'll risk being in the same spot in a few years as the economy slowly improves but she's still paying a mortgage as if her home was just as valuable as it was pre-2008.
See more of Vera's story in the video below.