Occupy Movement Turns Focus to Housing

Housing issues to take center stage Dec. 6 at various Occupy events around the country. Will policymakers listen?

Occupy Wall Street will demonstrate its frustration with the foreclosure crisis tomorrow by attempting to stop a foreclosure eviction in Brooklyn. Occupy protestors have similar plans in many other cities and have called Tuesday, Dec. 6 a National Day of Action.

The Occupy protestors and a spinoff called Occupy Our Homes have good reason to demonstrate their frustration over mounting foreclosures and market excesses, says Roberto G. Quercia, director of the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital.

Banks made risky loans they knew couldn’t be repaid, and made those loans disproportionately to people of color. African-Americans have lost their homes to foreclosures at twice the rate of white borrowers during the crisis — that’s unacceptable.

Here’s what Quercia wrote in the Center for Community Capital blog post:

“Four years into the crisis, policymakers still are considering misguided strategies, such as requiring a 20% down payment for new home loans. Research clearly shows that such a large down payment is not required to ensure borrowers will repay. Meanwhile, a huge share of the potential housing market would be shut out unnecessarily, further frustrating recovery.

“These proposals not only reflect a lack of understanding of the root causes of the crisis but, if implemented, will prolong the crisis and severely restrict home ownership opportunities for the next generation.

“The best outcome for tomorrow’s protest would be for the nation to affirm what really caused the crisis — shortsighted greed and lack of regulation, not lending to working families — and take action to restore a sound housing finance system that preserves what has worked to help generations of Americans take that first critical step into the financial mainstream.”

To turn the housing market and overall economy around, Americans need three things:

Safe, affordable loans with reasonable down payments, a way to refinance when our homes are valued at less than what we owe, and continued support of home ownership via the mortgage interest deduction.

The Occupy folks may live in tents while we live in houses but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way forever.

Do you think the Occupy movement will have an impact on the housing market crisis?