Across the nation, the foreclosure crisis has hit working class families the worst. In San Francisco alone, foreclosures have increased by as much as 450% over the past year. As the situation worsens, more and more renters of foreclosed homes are left vulnerable to tenant rights violations and illegal evictions. The banks received a huge government bailout to save them from being put out in the cold by the economic crisis. Yet these same banks have been quick to shut-off the utilities of foreclosed properties leaving tenants in the dark about how to defend their rights. Thankfully, Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC) and other housing rights groups were able to win some protections for San Francisco tenants. Among these protections are mandatory fines that banks must pay for each day tenants in a foreclosed home are left without utilities.
On the East side of the Bay, the fight against foreclosures continues with CJJC’s weekly foreclosure prevention group. As part of out Reinvest and Rebuild Campaign, the foreclosure prevention group is a member-led, each-one-teach-one space where the real experts lend advice to folks to keep families housed. Most private attorneys charge up to $3,000.00 for the services that our group provides for free. In return, we ask that the participants support others in similar situations and in this way build a united front against foreclosures in our community. The foreclosure prevention group meets every Wednesday in our East Oakland office. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
But that’s not all. Cause Justa :: Just Cause hit the ground running this year and worked with the City of Oakland to pass a Foreclosure Registration Ordinance that will require banks to register the properties they foreclose on and fine them for neglecting the maintenance and security of vacant properties. We see this as a step in the right direction of holding the banks accountable to our communities and will be pushing in the future to ensure that banks are held responsible for not only vacant properties in our neighborhoods but also for maintaining and managing foreclosed properties that are tenant occupied. This ordinance represents the first actual policy remedy passed in Oakland to address the devastating impact the foreclosure crisis on our city and neighborhoods, and we are committed to seeing even more local policies passed in the next year.
Along with this policy, we are fighting for Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation in Alameda County, which will make it law that Banks meet with homeowners before foreclosing on their home. We see this as a way to hold banks accountable while protecting homeowners, tenants and neighborhoods. A Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation policy would significantly reduce the number of foreclosures in the Bay Area by creating an incentive to the lender to negotiate and a more level playing field for the homeowner during the foreclosure process.