UPDATE: July 24, 11:30 a.m. -- Rep. Hansen Clarke has notified the Huffington Post that Fannie Mae is temporarily halting the eviction of Jennifer Britt. He said there will be no eviction proceedings Tuesday or Wednesday. The eviction had been scheduled for Tuesday, according to Clarke. Fannie Mae is currently reviewing the matter and will be in touch with Rep. Clarke.
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.
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