Press Release April 8th, 2011
For Immediate Release:
Take Back the Land-Madison
1202 Williams Street
Madison, WI 53703
Whose House? Our House: Connecting the Dots on M&I Bank.
Formerly homeless community members are renting one side of a duplex that is being foreclosed on by M&I Bank. In an effort to stop the foreclosure process which is set to be finalized on April 26th,, 2011, Take Back the Land-Madison, and community partners held a rally today at the house to demand that M&I Bank take social responsibility by turning the property over to the community to prevent the eventual eviction of the tenants when their lease expires.
The property owners facing foreclosure are in agreement. They were in a loan agreement they could not afford and do not want to see the tenants of this property displaced.
In 2009 M&I had one of the highest toxic asset rates in the nation at 5.5%. This had a great effect on homeowners lending from M&I. To begin to address this problem they started what they call a “Moratorium” on foreclosures. This is only for owner occupancy homes with owners who are able to work out a payment plan. We think this is a step in the right direction, but we further call for all properties to be protected by this moratorium regardless of payment or owner-occupancy.
Despite being awarded $1.7 billion in Federal Bailout funds, foreclosures on families and renters continue while “M&I Bank has given nearly $60 million of their bailout money to M&I executives in the form of outrageous work bonuses” according to Huffington Post writer Richard Eskow. When taxpayers like the renters and owners of 6304 Hammersley Rd funded this bailout which was supposed to help homeowners not bank executives, houses undergoing foreclosure like this one became public housing paid for by the people.
The foreclosure crisis of recent years continues as hundreds of thousands of people across the country are losing their homes—an epidemic that has certainly touched home here in Madison. According to Pat Schneider’s article Foreclosures: What are they costing us “Foreclosure court filings in Dane County for 2010 reached 1,768, up from 282 in 2000, a more than five-fold increase. What’s more, filings on Dane County properties continued to climb in 2010 at a faster rate than the state as a whole, according to research by the University of Wisconsin-Extension for the Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce.”
In this time of Governor Walker’s attacks on unions, working people, poor people, people of color and life-saving support like badgercare and foodshare, we need to keep people in their homes more than ever.
“M&I Bank has .. been a big supporter Gov. Scott Walker who is waging a war on poor and working people,” said Robert McGee a resident at the home. He added, “It is time for us to stand up to these bailed out banks for their irresponsibility, and disregard for peoples homes and peoples lives.”
The connection between M&I Bank and Walker paints a harrowing picture of the dangers of corporate special interests and their seedy involvement in political campaigns. Within the last 10 years, M&I Executives and other employees have contributed nearly $80 million dollars to Walker. During Walker’s recent campaign they donated a total of $46,308 which is more than all of their donations to other candidates combined.
In the midst of the Capitol protests against the budget repair bill last month, Madison Firefighters courageously led the first attack on M&I Bank. Many firefighters withdrew their accounts totaling $192,000 on the first day which forced the Capitol branch to close last March. Other individuals and community organizations inspired by the protests including Madison-Rafah Sister City project have withdrawn their accounts from the bank.
Take Back the Land Madison joins in this struggle to hold M&I to put pressure on them for their actions. “Robert and James, should be allowed to stay in their home. They have lived there and paid rent for over two years. Both men, who have been homeless in the past and cannot afford to be put out on the streets again.” Said Monica Adams, a spokesperson for Take Back the Land-Madison, “They have made it clear that they do not plan on leaving the house and Take back the Land-Madison is ready to help them in stopping any attempt M&I Bank makes in evicting the tenants.”
Take Back the Land-Madison and community partners will be rallying again at the Dane County Court House on April 26th at 8:00 am, when the confirmation of sale is scheduled, to demand again that the property be turned over to the community rather than to M&I bank.
Take Back the Land-Madison is part of the national Take Back the Land movement which seeks to take action in the face of a housing crisis in which foreclosed homes remain vacant and too many families are homeless while banks profit from billions on tax-financed bailout money. www.tblmadison.wordpress.com
Catherine Lennon and Take Back the Land-Rochester
In a major victory for those fighting back against the foreclosure crisis, mortgage and foreclosure giant Fannie Mae began talks with Catherine Lennon about the Rochester, NY home from which she was forcibly evicted just one day before. The negotiations, initiated by US congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), took place after Take Back the Land- Rochester (TBL- Rochester) organized a 2 week long eviction defense of the Lennon home, which ended in dramatic fashion with a SWAT team followed by a phalanx of police and multiple arrests. The goal of the talks is to get Lennon and her family back into their home.
Take Back the Land-Movement
Take Back the Land- Movement affiliated organizations have engaged in Positive Action throughout the country, including Take Back the Land in Miami, Atlanta and Madison, Wisconsin, as well as the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, FUREE in New York city, ONE DC and Empower DC, City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, Right 2 Survive in Portland, OR and the national Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. A host of other organizations await training and support. The Take Back the Land- Movement is also a part of the US Alliance of Inhabitants and the International Alliance of Inhabitants.
Here is a video highlighting the work of the Take Back the Land-Movement.