Victory for Right to the City and People in Need of Housing

Right to the City Alliance, a national alliance of racial, economic, and environmental justice organizations is celebrating a major victory for affordable housing with Fannie May this week.

Right to the City met with federal mortgage lender Fannie Mae this week to advocated on behalf of homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction, and communities in need of affordable housing. Right to the City and its allies submitted 96 cases, each including the person’s name, home address, proposed solution and contact information. The demands proposed included principal reduction, the right to rent, repairing poor conditions and transferring Fannie Mae owned properties to non-profits to become affordable housing.  

Fannie Mae agreed to donating properties for $1 or at a low cost to nonprofits, to be converted to affordable rentals. They also agreed to fulfill their statutory commitment to creating affordable housing through funding the National Housing Trust Fund. But, Fannie Mae staunchly refused to do principal reduction. The Vice President of Fannie May said that decision is in the hands of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

In Massachusetts, the persistent efforts of Right to the City member organization, Vida Urbana and the Brockton Bank Tenant’s Association led to a 11-0 vote by the Finance Committee of the Brockton City Council that approved an order to study the idea of using the City's eminent domain power to address the foreclosure crisis in Brockton. Under this proposal, the City would seize mortgages (not buildings) by eminent domain at their real current value (far less than face value) and then renegotiate the terms with borrowers.  Brockton is the first municipality nationally to agree to study the idea.