Sunday, March 8, 2009
JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Inside Info On Today's Press Conference With The Hennepin County Sheriff Re: Foreclosure Crisis
Word is there will be a press conference Monday, March 9, by the Hennepin County Sheriff. Here's what an anonymous source is telling me is the story behind the story...
Sheriff Stanek is sympathetic to people losing their homes due to foreclosure, as is County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who has often advocated for homeless people. Word is State Senator Linda Higgins is also supportive and on board with the statement that will be made today, Monday. But here's why the statement is being made.
This coming Wednesday, members of ACORN are apparently planning to disrupt a sheriff's foreclosure sale. Nobody said arrests are expected, but I've been around "direct actions" long enough to know nothing short of civil disobedience is going to stop a sheriff's sale. Monday's press conference appears to be an attempt to get out ahead of Wednesday's planned action and make some kind of statement.
Despite the fact other sheriffs around the country have taken a stand against foreclosure sales, Hennepin County appears to think not going through with such sales would open the county to litigation by banks. Meanwhile, there are apparently actions being planned to take over houses. Insight News recently commented on this phenomenon (I'll have to check to see if they spelled "Hawthorne" right, this time) and so it might be good for this blog to comment, too.
First of all, I understand the color and drama of taking over a building and how tempting that can be in the current political and economic climate. I participated in the takeover of a building in Seattle in the mid-1990s, and wrote a firsthand account in Real Change newspaper called "The Cracking of North Motel."
But I don't support taking over buildings in North Minneapolis. The prices of these buildings are so low that this stuff is ALREADY "affordable housing." So people who can't afford to buy one of these houses at the low, low prices certainly won't be able to afford fixing up and maintaining these houses. If a group wants to "take over" a vacant house, let them pass around the hat and fill it with hundred dollar bills, then buy one of these houses as a group. Otherwise, they should take their radical politics elsewhere. If our neighborhood wants to "take over" a vacant house, we have plenty of people here to do it.
The ACORN "disrupt and take over" strategy neglects one very important aspect of the foreclosure crisis. Some problem properties are in foreclosure, and neighborhoods are breathing sighs of relief as banks accomplish what police work could not: shutting down and getting rid of crack houses like the one at 3020 6th St. N., or showing the door to renters whose overgrown children terrorize the neighborhood.
I don't see how ACORN is addressing this aspect of the foreclosure crisis. Instead, they are reacting reflexively, acting like banks must be the bad guys, home owners must be the good guys, and the solution to the mortgage crisis is to get dozens of groovy like-minded folks together to take over buildings and disrupt sheriff's sales while the television cameras roll.
And more drama.