“And if you loan money to My people, the poor among you, you will not come after them as a creditor, and you will not put the bite on them with interest. And if you take a coat in pledge, you’ll return it at dusk, because that is all they have to cover themselves, to shelter their bodies. What else do they have to sleep in? And if they cry out to me, I will hear, because I care.”
(Ex.22:20-26, trans. Professor Earl Schwartz, Hamline University & Jewish Community Action)
The foreclosure crisis and recession have thrown millions of American families from their homes, shuttered many thousands of businesses, and deepened the rift of economic and racial inequality that divides our country and our communities. Since our founding, Jewish Community Action's work for economic justice has taken different forms, but what has remained consistent is our commitment to working with our allies in communities most deeply affected by injustice and inequality. When our long-term allies on the Northside of Minneapolis called on us to join in the fight against foreclosures, we answered. We became a founding partner of the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition in Minneapolis, and later extended our work as part of the St. Paul Fair Lending Coalition in St. Paul.
Through both coalitions, we join in door-knocking and educational forums to identify and then assist families trying to keep their homes. NCRC and the SPFLC, together with JCA, have succeeded in supporting families by intervening with banks and lenders to obtain loan modifications and other tools to prevent foreclosures. We also involve Northside and St. Paul residents in door-knocking and outreach to support other families.
In 2013, we and our allies had many hard-fought and monumental wins. With overwhelming bipartisan support, both the State House and State Senate passed the Homeowners' Bill of Rights, which will put an end to "dual tracking" and establish a single point of contact and private right of action for families facing foreclosure. We are now one of just two states in the country that has strong, comprehensive protections for homeowners facing foreclosure. California, which passed its own Homeowners' Bill of Rights in January 2013, has already seen a dramatic drop in foreclosures, and we look forward to Minnesota benefiting similarly from this landmark legislation. In addition to this legislative win, in May 2013, community leader Rose McGee, with whom JCA and NCRC have worked for over a year, finally received a loan modification from CitiMortgage, allowing her to keep her home of over 20 years. Finally, we are working to pass responsible banking ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as other suburban communities, and in 2013, saw great progress in this effort with both the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
To get involved in our foreclosure prevention and financial justice work--through door-knocks, phone banks, research, citizen lobbying, and more--contact an organizer today!