Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Michigan Chronicle endorses Congressman John Conyers in the primary election for the 13th District and Congressman Hansen Clarke in the primary election for the 14th District.
Congressman Conyers is a civil rights icon, and we agree with President Barack Obama that he remains an important national leader who should have another term in office. At age 83, Congressman Conyers is still at times the first national figure to speak out, and provide a progressive perspective, on the important national and international issues of the day. And we like the fact that, unlike so many politicians these days, he is “unbought” — he takes his positions based on personal convictions and principle, not because of any fundraisers’ dictates. We need much more of that on Capitol Hill.
Among the competition in the 13th District, State Representative Shanelle Jackson is an impressive public official, worthy of consideration. But, in our judgment, Congressman Conyers’ iconic status gives him the edge at this point in time.
Congressman Clarke is a high energy, “out-of-the-box” thinker who grew up on the poor east side of Detroit. He has not forgotten his humble origins and has dedicated his public life to improving the lives of the working class and poor in Detroit. We would like to see him have an opportunity to continue his work on Capitol Hill.
Congressman Gary Peters is also running in the 14th District. He is a well-respected public official and in his two terms has been a good legislator for the Oakland County communities he represents. Since redistricting, he has worked energetically to establish relationships in the city and has picked up some impressive endorsements. But, Congressman Peters has not yet been a leader on urban issues and, in our judgment, urban issues have not been a centerpiece of his campaign. Forced to make a choice between Congressman Clarke and Peters, we would send Congressman Clarke to Capitol Hill as the representative of the newly configured 14th District.
For several reasons, the upcoming congressional races for the 13th and 14th Districts are of historic importance. Thanks to the state legislature’s redistricting mischief, the city of Detroit could go from having two Congressmen — Conyers and Clarke — to no Detroiter representing us in Congress. Detroit has had two representatives in Congress for generations. Many, including the Michigan Chronicle, are understandably concerned about the prospect of losing both positions.
Also, thanks to redistricting, African-American representation in the Michigan congressional delegation is threatened.
Of course, we do not believe voters should base their decisions on residency alone or on skin color at all. But the thought, in this day and age, of an African-American population as large and important as Detroit’s sending no member of that community to Congress, is an ugly problem that should make everyone in the state of Michigan uncomfortable.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 16:12
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Last week we were awakened to the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people were shot to death in a movie theater and many more were wounded, and others in critical condition by a lone gunman underscore why we need leadership on gun control.
Unfortunately, neither of the presidential candidates, incumbent, President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, have offered or signaled any strong interest in making gun control a part of their campaign platform in 2012 despite the glaring reality of the gun menace. In the wake of the killings in Colorado, neither candidate has rejuvenated the conversation for stricter gun control.
In the past couple of months in Detroit we’ve seen carnage take place, where in some cases young children are the victims of violent crime situations created by the proliferation of guns in our community, including assault weapons.
Unfortunately none of our local elected officials in Michigan and in Detroit have gone on record or initiated a meaningful conversation around gun control in and around Detroit.
Aside from some law enforcement efforts in metro Detroit in partnership with churches to get people to turn in guns, there has been no real significant move to make gun control an important part of making our lives safer.
Why would someone who legally owns a gun be in need of an assault or automatic weapon?
Making our lives safe shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican issue. We never knew the party affiliation of the victims of the Aurora shootings or the victims of violent crime in Detroit. And it is dangerous when we begin to politicize public safety to the level that one party feels that it has to be the sacred mouthpiece of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
This is where we need leadership that is principled and not afraid of the powerful NRA lobby.
In 1994, former president Bill Clinton signed into law the decade-long ban on assault weapons. Clinton rallied supporters — including police officers and other law enforcement, the strongest backers of the ban — as well as families of victims of assault weapons and succeeded in getting Congress to pass the ban. Like the smart politician he is, Clinton put a face to the dangers of assault weapons like the one used in the Colorado killings.
In 2004, during the George W. Bush presidency, the ban on assault weapons lapsed and there has been no interest shown by members of Congress to renew the ban.
Because they are afraid of the NRA?
Who sent them to Congress?
Is it the NRA or their district members?
It’s time to demand that our political leadership show some backbone and fight to protect the lives of people by supporting not only the renewal of the ban on assault weapons, but ensuring that in our communities gun control is at the forefront of the survival question.
We cannot avoid this issue and we should not wait for another Aurora or Columbine to remind us yet again that our political leadership is failing woefully on this issue.
We owe it to the legacy of the victims of Aurora, the victims of violent crime in Detroit, where dangerous weapons have been used, to push for gun control in our search for “liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Nothing can compensate for the lives that have been lost in Colorado, Detroit, the gang violence in Chicago and the six-year-old killed in the Aurora movie theater.
But those who claim to be our leaders have a responsibility to care and work for those who put them in office. And it should not matter what is politically expedient when it comes to public safety.
What should matter is doing the right thing — and that is fighting to ensure that we can curtail violent crime from Aurora to Detroit. We can start by offering leadership on gun control.
Certainly, the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, matters, but explain that in defense of lack of gun control to a family that has lost members in a deadly shooting where assault weapons were used.
Explain that to the parents of the six-year-old killed in Aurora.
Explain that to the families of young children who have been killed in gang violence.
It is time for our political leadership to step up.
Bankole Thompson is editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of a six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published in 2010, follows his recent book, “Obama and Christian Loyalty” with a foreward by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and “Obama and Business Loyalty.” Thompson is a political news analyst at WDET-101.9FM (NPR affiliate) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 13:25
Category: Top News Written by Rick Haglund
Streetcars disappeared from Detroit decades ago, but a group of prominent business and philanthropic leaders are trying to build a modern version of the once-popular transit system.
Auto racing legend Roger Penske, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, the Kresge Foundation and others have raised nearly $100 million for a proposed streetcar system running along Woodward Avenue from Congress Street in downtown to New Center.
Originally proposed as a light rail system connecting Detroit to the suburbs, the M-1 Rail project was downsized to a 3.4-mile-long streetcar system after Gov. Rick Snyder and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood threw their support behind a high-speed bus system.
The M-1 project (M-1 is the state highway designation for Woodward Avenue) is projected to cost $137 million.
Matt Cullen, a former General Motors Co. executive who is CEO of M-1 Rail describes the project.
Q: The Department of Transportation has, for now, turned down your request for $25 million in funding for the M-1 Rail plan over concerns about how the operation of the line will be paid for long term. How do you plan to convince the feds that this is a viable project?
Matt Cullen says recent governmental setbacks will not derail his group's plan to run light rail down Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
A: They said, “We don’t have a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for you, but there’s another $25 million in our budget waiting for you when we get the information we need.” We’re comfortable with that. They want more detail about the project in the next 60 days.
We were dead in the water 90 days ago, but we’ve proven so far that we can do this. The questions are who is going to operate this; who gets the money from the fare box? They’ve given us 60 days to answer them.
Q: What happens if you’re not successful in obtaining federal funds?
A: We’re certainly optimistic. There’s no real contingency plan at this point. It’s possible, but not desirable, to raise more money from our partners. The business and philanthropic communities support the project. If we’re going to do this, it’s important to have all the different partners (including the federal government) participating.
Q: Do you need a regional transit authority in place before you can construct the line?
A: I think we all need the regional transit authority. Transportation in Southeast Michigan has been balkanized for too long with D-DOT and SMART and all these systems that don’t interact with each other in a cohesive way.
We want the (Regional Transit Authority) in place sooner rather than later. But I don’t think it makes sense for us to wait. M-1 is ready to move today. We can go forward and be a catalyst for an RTA.
We can operate for 10 years before the RTA or another entity take over the operation. We want that to happen sooner rather than later.
Q: Are you considering a private operator for the line?
A: Yes. M-1 obviously is not a transit company. We don’t want to build up to become a transit operator. We’re looking to select the best private operator (if the RTA doesn’t materialize). It’s like hiring Marriott to run your hotel. It’s not an overly complicated process.
Q: Light rail has been viewed in other cities as not just for moving people around, but as a key component for economic development. Do you see it that way as well?
A: We surely do. The people who are involved in this project are big fans of transit, but the real focus is on economic development. They see Midtown and downtown Detroit as a great environment to live, work and play.
Q: What kind of development projects do you envision occurring along the route?
A: A lot has started already with more people living in the area. Residential, research and retail are among the activities we’ll see develop along the line.
Q: Do you see M-1 as part of a larger regional transportation system in southeast Michigan?
A: Yes. The RTA really is a foundational element. A rapid bus system has been proposed for Southeast Michigan. We think that’s the right answer. Obviously that needs to tie into the Woodward Avenue corridor.
Many people are skeptical about mass transit, especially in Michigan, the home of the domestic auto industry. Why will the M-1 be successful?
It’s really not hard to look around the country, benchmark other systems and see that they’ve been universally successful. At times, people say the fare box revenues aren’t enough to offset the costs. But we’re confident the ridership will be there. We look at this as a way of revitalizing the city.
If you wanted to pick one city for our system to emulate, it would be Portland. What they have is consistent with what we want to put in here.
It’s easy to benchmark other cities’ transportation systems against ours because we’re the only city that doesn’t have one.
Q: Overall, what will this project mean for Detroit and Southeast Michigan?
A: It’s an economic development driver. It’s a bona fide transit system. It connects the most populated city with the rest of the region. It connects us to the Amtrak station in New Center. Ultimately there will be a passenger rail link to Metro Airport.
These are important components of what young folks want when they’re deciding where they want to live when they graduate from college. They’re looking for reliable public transportation.
Q: You mentioned earlier that rider fares won’t cover the costs of the system. How will you ensure that the system is financially viable?
A: The fare box doesn’t fully support any transit operating system in the country. In this instance, we have put together strong private support, and we’re looking at things such as selling naming rights to the system so we’ll have a balanced budget.
Q: When should we look for the M-1 line to be operational?
A: We hope to get the (Federal Transit Authority) to sign off in 60 days. The environmental review has begun. We hope to begin construction next year and complete the line in two years. It’s been an arduous process at times, but we’re getting near the finish line.
Editor’s Note: Rick Haglund is a writer for Bridge Magazine, an editorial partner of the Michigan Chronicle. Haglund has had a distinguished career covering Michigan business, economics and government at newspapers throughout the state. Most recently, at Booth Newspapers he wrote a statewide business column and was one of only three such columnists in Michigan.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:05
Category: Breaking News Written by cnn.com
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced an initiative he said will give African-American students greater access "to a complete and competitive education from the time they're born all through the time they get a career."
Speaking Wednesday night at a National Urban League gathering in New Orleans, Obama said he has issued an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, saying, "A higher education in a 21st century cannot be a luxury. It is a vital necessity that every American should be able to afford," he said.
He added that his administration is "pushing all colleges and universities" to cut their costs.
The president focused the bulk of his comments on the economy, saying his tax policies and economic plans aim to boost the middle class.
"We also believe that every entrepreneur should have a chance to start a business, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like," he said. "That's why we've helped African-American businesses and minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses gain access to more than $7 billion in contracts and financing that allow them to grow and create jobs."
A spokeswoman for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded to the speech, saying Obama has "disappointed" African-Americans with his performance on the economy.
"As black Americans, we all take pride in Barack Obama's historic election," said Tara Wall, senior communications and coalition adviser for the Romney campaign, "but unfortunately his performance as president has not matched that enthusiasm. He's disappointed black small business owners, failed to address rising black unemployment -- which now stands at over 14%, and is double that among our youth -- and failed to address the widening economic disparity gap."
Obama's executive order comes in the wake of a new report by the National Urban League's Policy Institute that warned the president could lose three key battleground states -- Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio -- if African-American voters don't match their strong turnout of 2008 in this year's election.
"African-American voters tipped the outcome of the 2008 presidential election in several key states, and are poised to do so again in 2012," said the report, titled "The Hidden Swing Voters: Impact of African-Americans in 2012" by Madura Wijewardena and Valerie Wilson.
"How this will manifest will depend on many things, but one important factor will be whether the extraordinary growth in turnout by African-American voters in 2008 will be replicated in 2012," the report continued. "The 2008 voter turnout rate was driven by historic factors that may not necessarily apply in 2012."
The "historic factors" reference was to Obama being the nation's first African-American nominee of a major party, with voters having the opportunity in 2008 to make him the nation's first African-American president.
This time, an economy struggling to recover from a recession that hit African-Americans particularly hard has raised questions about whether Obama supporters will have the same fervor as they did four years ago.
A recent Gallup Poll showed the president with overwhelming support among registered African-American voters, with backing of 89%, compared with 5% for certain Republican nominee Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama won 95% of the African-American vote, with 4% voting for GOP candidate John McCain.
About 2 million more African-Americans voted in the 2008 election than in 2004, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. Voting by all minority groups accounted for nearly all the increase in turnout (5 million) between the two election cycles, as white non-Hispanic voting was virtually unchanged, the Census Bureau reported.
A decline in African-American voter turnout to the 2004 level of 60% from the 2008 level of 64.7% would cause Obama to lose in North Carolina and possibly lose in Ohio and Virginia, according to the National Urban League Policy Institute report.
Obama won all three states in 2008, and most scenarios for Obama's re-election depend on him winning at least two of them this time. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, while North Carolina has 15 and Virginia has 13.
A fierce start to the election campaign, with the candidates and their supporting super PACs launching bitter attacks, has made ensuring enthusiastic backing from traditional support bases a key to victory in November.
The president's speech Wednesday concluded a four-day, six-state swing that started earlier than planned Sunday so he could visit Aurora, Colorado, after last week's mass shooting at a movie theater.
During the speech, Obama made some of the most forceful statements of his presidency on the issue of gun violence, saying that while he respects the nation's hunting and gun-owning traditions, "We should leave no stone unturned and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe."
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:45
Category: Breaking News Written by Politics 365
President Obama told young audience members to “study” and that success had to be earned in a global economy. ”Don’t just cheer and not study,” the President said to an enthusiastic crowd in New Orleans.
The President strayed from his prepared remarks late Wednesday night as he spoke to the National Urban League Convention in New Orleans.
“”You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore,” President Obama said.
“That means all of you all have got to hit the books. I’m just saying. Don’t cheer and then you didn’t do your homework. Because that’s part of the bargain, that’s part of the bargain — America says we will give you opportunity, but you’ve got to earn your success,” President Obama told the audience.
“You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore. They’re not hanging out. They’re not getting over. They’re not playing video games. They’re not watching “Real Housewives.” I’m just saying. It’s a two-way street. You’ve got to earn success. That wasn’t in my prepared remarks. But I’m just saying,” the President concluded.
Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’ reality show franchise covers the suburban trials and tribulations of professional women in various cites such as Atlanta, New Jersey and Beverly Hills. The title is a spinoff of the ABC series Desperate Housewives.
“That wasn’t in my prepared remarks,” the President playfully added at the end laughing.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:41
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Silicon Valley has become a fertile stomping ground for tech-savvy CEOs and their companies, yet minorities struggle to breach the exclusive community of entrepreneurs and magnanimous venture capitalists.
Despite rumors that brains and luck are the best ways to break in, challenges persist. But accelerator programs like NewME are striving for infiltration to the Valley by honing entrepreneurial talent amongst top start-ups and tech giants such as Google and Facebook.
“Everybody that’s in the program has drive to be successful,”
said Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewMe Accelerator, as reported on NPR.
In Benton’s program, six start-up hopefuls undergo a rigorous three-week boot camp of mentoring and training, gaining a level of access not often received by many Black or female entrepreneurs.
And while programs like Benton’s aim to break the “silicon” ceiling for aspiring Black CEOs, other parts of the country have emerged as prime locations for aspiring Black business owners as well.
Last month, Black Enterprise magazine released its annual BE Top 100 List, a ranking of the top grossing Black-owned businesses across the U.S.
The 100 CEOs ranked on the list hail from across the nation, east to west. Still, several states, including New York, Texas and Ohio, appear on this year’s list multiple times, further cementing the belief that some places are simply more favorable to Black businesses than others.
In addition to reoccurring states, the most prevalent industries featured include management and administrative services, construction, IT accounts, retail trade and professional and technical services.
But Black Enterprise's list isn't the only indicator of African-Americans' increasing entrepreneurial success.
According to most recent data from the Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Black Business owners, the number of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, reaching 1.9 million, . In comparison, the national rate of businesses peaked at a mere 18 percent during that same period.
Within that surge, women of color seem to have excelled in particular, with Black women launching three to five times the rate of all businesses, the Center for Women’s Business Research reports.
On the other side of the coin, however, comes bleak statistics pointing to a noticeable lack of support from Black consumers in keeping those Black-owned businesses afloat. Despite significant growth in employment and earnings, Black-owned businesses generated just 0.5 percent of all receipts in 2007, the Census report says.
Having spent a year shopping only at Black-owned businesses, Maggie Anderson authored the book "Our Black Year" to highlight the difficulties she and her family encountered along the way.
“Once I realized how important it was to find them, I was able to support them,” Anderson told The Huffington Post.
“Black business owners have to do what any other business owner has to do in order to succeed,” she added. “The difference is that it is harder for a Black business owner, even when they do exactly what any other entrepreneur does.”
Anderson pointed to a lack of access to capital, mentors and networks as barriers, and adds that cultural barriers often prevent sustainability once those businesses have been created.
“A lot of that restricted access has to do with covert, sometimes arbitrary and latent racism that still exists in our banks, other funding sources, and the overall close-knit nature of the industries they may try to penetrate,” Anderson said.
Yet still, there are at least 100 that are finding a way. Here, we've scanned Black Enterprise's list to determine which cities black business owners have found the most success.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:32
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
DETROIT (AP) — Michigan will get about $47 million in federal funds to replace old buses and improve transit facilities across the state.
The seven projects are among 255 across the country announced Monday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
A $6.3 million grant will renovate the Amtrak train station in East Lansing, and 20 rural agencies will split $5 million to replace aging buses with more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Livingston County Transit Agency also will get $877,476.
Last week, authorities announced grants for the Detroit area and Flint.
The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation will get $30 million to replace buses in the Detroit area. On-board security cameras also will be installed on buses and a GPS vehicle location system added.
Flint's Mass Transportation Authority will get $4 million to replace older buses with sustainable, fuel-efficient hybrid electric and propane-fueled vehicles.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 02:27
Category: Breaking News Written by CBS News
DETROIT — Efforts to establish a recreational development project along Detroit's east riverfront are getting a $44 million boost from the federal government and the state, officials announced Monday.
The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy said new partnerships and a series of construction projects will wrap up work in the area. They include the redevelopment of Mount Elliott Park, improvements at Gabriel Richard Park and expanding the reach of the Detroit RiverWalk.
The project is getting $29 million in federal highway money and a $15 million investment by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, officials said. It includes work at a site once home to a Uniroyal tire factory.
"Today's announcement and funding puts the east riverfront close to the finish line," Matt Cullen, chairman of the RiverFront Conservancy's board, said in a statement.
For decades, Detroit's east riverfront had been identified with dilapidated, vacant factories and old manufacturing sites, but years off work have transformed much of it for recreational use. It now includes William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor, located along the Detroit River near downtown.
The centerpiece of the development has been the RiverWalk promenade, which is popular with walkers, runners and bicyclists.
At Mount Elliot Park, plans call for shoreline improvements, a new plaza, pavilion, water feature and playscape. Gaps in the RiverWalk between downtown Detroit and Belle Isle also will be filled, including portions near Chene Park and along the former Uniroyal site.
"This is an important day in the development of our riverfront," Mayor Dave Bing said. "It is also a testimony to what is possible when the public and private sectors come together and develop a plan with the will to make it happen."
The federal money will be administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which will become co-project manager to help complete the work. Money from the Natural Resources Trust Fund will help the conservancy operate and maintain riverfront attractions.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 02:23
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Detroit Lions Release CB Aaron Berry After Second Off-Season Arrest
This photo from June 13, 2012 shows Detroit Lions football cornerback Aaron Berry (32) in talks with teammate Amari Spievey during NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich. Berry was released from the Detroit Lions on Monday, July 24, 2012 after his second arrest of the off-season. (AP Photo / Paul Sancya)
Emotions and sensitivities toward weapons ran high after the senseless shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater early Friday morning which killed 12 and wounded 58. Yet, just 24 hours after the tragedy, Detroit Lions cornerback Aaron Berry was arrested after he reportedly aimed a handgun at three bystanders.
That was the last straw for the Detroit Lions, who released Berry on Monday, two days after his second arrest of the summer in his off-season home of Harrisburg, PA. He was expected to start this season, his third with the Lions. Training camp for the team's veterans begins Thursday in Allen Park, MI.
Berry was also arrested under suspicion of DUI in June after reportedly hitting two parked cars in his BMW and leaving the scene on foot.
“We have repeatedly stressed to everyone in our organization that there will be appropriate consequences when an expected standard of behavior is not upheld,” Lions president Tom Lewand said in a released statement.
The NFL Central team hasn't won a league championship since 1957, but they're currently leading all NFL teams in off-season arrests. Berry's alleged antics last weekend mark the seventh time a Detroit Lions player has had a run-in with the police since the season ended.
There were seven arrests of current Detroit Lions athletes from 2001-2011. Another seven arrests have occurred just since January.
Sportswriters have been calling for Berry's release since news of his second arrest was shared. Berry was reportedly in his car when he aimed his gun at bystanders in downtown Harrisburg. Police wouldn't say whether the handgun was registered.
"No one in their locker room would be surprised, and the timing would set an appropriate tone for the opening of training camp later this week," wrote ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert. "Otherwise, Berry's continued employment would be a tacit endorsement of his behavior and leave us to wonder what -- if anything -- would compel the Lions to fire a player other than poor performance on the field."
Wrote the Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski, "in sports, as in any business, your worth is partly defined by your expendability. The Lions don't have many good, seasoned cornerbacks and Berry was slated to start, but if his judgment is as bad as he's displayed the past month, he needs a big-time wake-up call."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 02:13
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Rep. Hansen Clarke Demands Fannie Mae Halt Evictions For 90 Days, Change Foreclosure Policy
U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Detroit) is requesting that Fannie Mae, a government-backed financial institution that handles mortgage loans, halt all evictions for 90 days. The congressman wants the organization to temporarily suspend evictions so it can revise its policy to allow for more reasonable payment plans for responsible homeowners.
"Currently Fannie Mae is evicting people on an arbitrary basis, destroying property values in neighborhoods and [decimating] city tax bases," Clarke told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. "It's outrageous that our own tax money is being used to evict homeowners from their own properties."
He made the announcement Monday at a press conference at the home of Jennifer Britt, a Detroit woman currently facing eviction after a long struggle with Flagstar Bank and Fannie Mae.
Fannie Mae is the commonly used name for the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA). On its website the organization describes itself as "a government-sponsored enterprise chartered by Congress to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders, to help strengthen the U.S. housing and mortgage markets, and to support affordable homeownership." The federal government bailed out Fannie Mae along with its sister organization Freddie Mac in response to the foreclosure crisis in 2008.
Clarke said he sent his request in a letter to Fannie Mae's president and CEO ,Timothy J. Mayopoulos, and plans to have a personal conversation with him. If efforts to persuade the organization fail, Clarke said he would pursue regulatory and legislative action.
In April of this year, Rep. Clarke sponsored a bill called The Save Our Neighborhoods Act which would suspend the foreclosure process for up to three years for some homeowners. He currently running against Congressman Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) for a seat in the newly drawn 14th congressional district.
At the Monday press conference Clarke also advocated for Jennifer Britt, who is currently engaged in a vigil with Occupy Detroit and other supporters to prevent the eviction of her family from their Rosedale Park home in Northwest Detroit.
The congressman told The Huffington Post that Fannie Mae should work out a deal with Britt "as a matter of fairness" because she has put over $45,000 into the house since her husband passed away in 2006. He also noted that Britt had the support of Southwest Solutions, a Detroit-based nonprofit, that wants to purchase house on her behalf.
Susan Cherry-Bergesen, a spokeswoman for Flagstar Bank, which at one time handled the mortgage for Britt's home, said the bank would not comment on her case , citing concern for customer privacy.
"We can tell you that we are not the current owner or servicer of that loan; nor are we involved in the eviction associated with the property," she said.
Fannie Mae spokesman Andrew Wilson also told The Huffington Post that his organization does not generally go into the details of individual cases for privacy reasons. He said he had not received a proposal from Rep. Clarke regarding his call for a temporary suspension of evictions, adding that Fannie Mae would review it once they received it.
"We want to prevent as many foreclosures as we can, and we encourage any borrower who is struggling to make their mortgage payments to reach out for assistance as soon as possible," he said. "Unfortunately, not all foreclosures can be prevented. When a foreclosure must occur it is important for the process to take place in a timely and a proper manner so that neighborhoods that have been hardest-hit by the housing crisis can stabilize and begin to recover."
For additional information and resources on foreclosure homeowners can contact their mortgage servicer, call one of Fannie Mae's 12 Mortgage Help Centers or visit www.knowyouroptions.com.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 02:10
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