Occupy Homes MN welcomes the news that President Obama plans to name a permanent replacement for Ed DeMarco as a permanent director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The nomination of Rep. Mel Watt, which must be approved by the Senate, came after a 16-month national campaign led by New Bottom Line urging the president to replace Ed DeMarco as acting director.
John Vinje, then fighting his Freddie Mac foreclosure in Bloomington, takes the bullhorn at a rally on Ed DeMarco's Silver Spring, Md. lawn in September 2012.
"This is a start, but I don't think the battle ends until the people get what they need and deserve--a fair deal and the right to stable housing," said David Cruz, whose family made headlines last year after 39 arrests took place as neighbors defended his home from a wrongful Freddie Mac foreclosure. "We can start with principal reduction and allowing Fannie and Freddie to sell homes back to previous owners who are willing and able to pay. We have to keep pressure up to get a new acting director immediately without waiting for the Senate to act. As time is wasting more people are losing their homes."
“Today’s victory shows that when we fight together, we can win not only individual home negotiations, but also policy change,” said Caylin Crawford, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN who yesterday finalized an unprecedented settlement with Freddie Mac that will keep her in her home. Caylin was arrested with four other homeowners from around the country in an action interrupting DeMarco’s Congressional testimony in March.
Caylin interrupts Ed DeMarco's Congressional testimony to demand affordable housing, March 2013. She and four others were arrested and charged with "disrupting Congress."
Since the Cruz home occupation in spring 2012, Occupy Homes MN has demanded President Obama fire Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a demand echoed by many progressive organizations around the country. Under the leadership of Ed DeMarco, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which control a majority of U.S. mortgages, have consistently refused to enact principal reduction or negotiate with struggling homeowners--including the Cruz family and Rose McGee, a Golden Valley homeowner currently working with Occupy Homes MN to fight her impending Fannie Mae eviction.
“I hope that Congressman Watt will be confirmed quickly, and that he will understand the importance of principal reduction to help guarantee that every family has access to safe and equitable housing,” said Rose McGee. “I don't know if this will help my situation, but I'm hopeful at this point for the future of others." Fannie Mae has been unyielding in its negotiations with Rose, at least in part because of policies DeMarco has put in place. At a press conference before Rose's last court hearing, Rep. Keith Ellison came out in favor of firing DeMarco.
Occupy Homes MN has helped lead national actions in Washington, D.C. at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac headquarters and Ed DeMarco's home. They also produced a rhyming picture book, Fannie and Freddie, about the role these institutions continue to play in the housing crisis.
“Knowing that there is finally a nominee to replace DeMarco makes me feel hopeful for families who are facing foreclosures just like mine did,” said Alejandra Cruz, David’s sister. “I hope those families struggling and working very hard for their homes will be able to stay in their homes without having to deal with Ed DeMarco standing in the way of justice."