If you haven’t heard by now, you should have heard that our friend Rose McGee is in danger of losing her house. The long and the short of it is that because of a brief unemployment she got behind on her mortgage.
Citi-Mortgage made her think that they were going to work with her to modify her loan, but while having her file dozens of documents supposedly to help modify her loan, the bank started foreclosure procedures at the same time. The practice is called dual tracking and has become a common trick of the banks.
Rose is simply seeking a loan modification. She can pay, she wants to pay, she just needs a little adjustment on the loan.
Citi-Mortgage has used it as an opportunity to steal her house. Yes, stealing is the right word because Rose has been in the house for nearly 20 years, meaning she has paid thousands of dollars in interest and principal. And now they want to leave her hanging. Sounds like thievery and gangsterism to me. Sounds like the work of some real thugs.
In helping Rose we help ourselves. Rose is one of us!
Her late husband, Billy McGee, worked to make sure folks going through the justice system would have a fair shake. She has told stories to some of our kids. She has baked pies and tried her hand at entrepreneurship. She has lost her husband. She has children that she loves.
No, she doesn’t live in the ’hood and she doesn’t have to in order to have our support. We Black folks and our allies fought long and hard for the right to live where we want. A Star Tribune reporter seemed to think that Rose shouldn’t be able to enjoy the comforts of suburban life. He suggested that she probably shouldn’t be living where she is living and paying what she is paying. After all, he didn’t live out there and pay her kind of mortgage.
Everywhere I go passing out flyers or talking about Rose’s plight someone says, “I know her. I have seen her. She was the sweet potato pie lady,” or “She came and talked at my school. She gave a presentation at a community meeting. She came and told us stories.”
So we know this woman. She goes to church. She is still even looking after her dad and even trying to help her daughter and her son get their fledgling ministry off the ground. We ought to help Rose. She is like us.
This struggle is bigger than Rose. This is a struggle for fair housing and fair-housing prices and fair-housing practices. Housing is indeed a right! All human beings should have shelter. And we have an expectation in our society that folks should be able to live in their homes.
Home is where folks get some peace of mind from the daily invasion of problems and relief, from the maddening toil that we all have to experience in order to enjoy shelter.
This is a fight for what is right. Everyone knows or should know by now that the government gave the Wall Street banks $16 trillion. I say gave because most of that money was interest free.
For institutions that make their money by adding juice to their loans, that’s like free money. But how much interest should they be able to charge? Two percent interest on a housing loan ought to be able to suffice for any bank. If that sounds too low, interests rates right now are hovering around 2.5, so how did it get to be eight and 10 and 12 percent? Because the market could stand it, because they knew you had it; so like some hustler they (the lenders) charged us as much as they knew we could pay.
How did most of American mortgages wind up underwater and have an election in which the so-called most electable failed to utter a peep about the problem? If we lived in the country we thought we did, we wouldn’t have to be begging to stay in our homes and to pay a fair rate for mortgages.
You ought to stand with Rose because the next house that gets foreclosed on might be yours. Maybe, just maybe, we can strike a blow, a symbolic blow for justice in this one instance.
If we are the people we think we are, students from all over the Twin Cities will rally with Rose and say, “Not this house.” If we are the people we say we are, church folks from all over the Twin Cities will rally and say, “Not this house.” If we are the community we say we are, we will rally with Rose and say, “Not this house!”
Stand with Rose McGee. She is like us!
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.