Leaders from Communities of Color Speak Out as Governor Deliberates: “Don’t Curtail Historic Right to Sue; Leave a Legacy of Opportunity to Recoup Homes Taken by Illegal Foreclosures
As the deadline for the Governor to decide what of dozens of bills to veto or sign approaches, Leaders of Color from across the state, including Worcester, Brockton and Boston, publicly ask that the Governor refuse to sign a little-known piece of legislation, Senate Bill #1987.
“We are watching with grave concern. The Governor has a chance here to leave a legacy of access to justice for 65,000+ foreclosed households in Massachusetts – disproportionately homeowners of color – or deny that access,” explains Juan M. Cofield, President, NAACP, New England Area Conference, “This bill, Senate 1987, will codify the last decade of illegal behavior by lending institutions – which they have often admitted – and specifically racially discriminatory practices by slashing the window for illegally foreclosed homeowners to sue to regain their homes from 20 years down to 1 year.”
Click this link to read the open letter (Word file) from a list of thirteen signatories – all leaders in communities of color across Massachusetts. The longer the Governor deliberates on signing the bill, the larger hopes have grown that he will preserve access to justice. The eloquent letter speaks for itself. It began circulating for signatures late Thursday, and its list of names continues to grow.
Signatories include: Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Executive Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Harvard University; Robert Terrell, Executive Director, The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston; Juan M. Cofield, President, NAACP, New England Area Conference; Horace Small, Executive Director, Union of Minority Neighborhoods; Pat Yancey, President, Worcester NAACP Branch; Marvin Martin, Executive Director, Greater Four Corners Action Coalition; Honorable Tito Jackson, City Councilor, District 7, Boston, Massachusetts; Magalis Troncoso, Executive Director, Dominican Development Center; Stephanie Williams, Housing Chair, Boston NAACP Branch; Honorable Jass Stewart, City Councilor at Large, Brockton, Massachusetts; Honorable Sarai Rivera, City Councilor, District 4, Worcester, Massachusetts; Heloisa Maria Galvão, Executive Director, Brazilian Women’s Group; Rahsaan D. Hall, Esq., Deputy Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
“Senate Bill 1987, darling of the Title Insurance Lobby – though named An Act to Clear Title to Foreclosed Properties – does nothing to correct title for either the 65,000+ foreclosed homes or the literally hundreds of thousands of damaged titles to homeowners’ properties across the state,” Heloisa Maria Galvão, Executive Director, Brazilian Women’s Group, “Even though the SJC has agreed that thousands of Massachusetts homeowners’ foreclosures contain violations, S1987 seeks to stop wronged homeowners from coming into court with viable legal challenges and getting their homes back.”
“During this present foreclosure crisis, our communities of color lost about $8 to $12 billion in household wealth; the whole state economy lost conservatively $20 to $40 billion. Only homeowners who were wronged can bring that wealth back to Massachusetts – why would we shut the door on that important chance at justice for our whole state?” explains Zakiya Alake, from Union of Minority Neighborhoods, a homeowner herself foreclosed early in the 2000’s.
Click this link to download the full text of this press release (Word file).