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 participate 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.
Although we are proud to have helped pass the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights, the legislation could be stronger with the addition of foreclosure mediation. We are currently supporting a bill that would require banks to meet face to face with homeowners. A mediator would serve as a referee between banks and homeowners, to ensure that homeowners always have a fair process to go through when they face possible foreclosure. We are working hard to make this critical structural change to protect families from future abuses.
Meanwhile, we are working to pass responsible banking measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in surrounding suburban communities. In 2013, JCA and allies succeeded in passing a responsible banking ordinance in Minneapolis, and saw Hennepin County develop a new banking request requiring greater transparency from banks. As we strive for additional responsible banking measures, we are we are working to frame the conversation about where the cities bank and what they ask of banks in return.
To get involved in our foreclosure prevention and economic justice work--through door-knocks, phone banks, research, citizen lobbying, and more--contact Gabe today at firstname.lastname@example.org!