Some Good News for Low-Income Families Hoping for Homes in Cincy & Detroit

New Orleans       For lower income and working families in these days of escalating rents and no money flowing in the credit deserts, the old saying that if it “weren’t for bad news, there wouldn’t be any news at all” feels too much like an everyday story.  In Detroit and Cincinnati recently, there was some good news that should create some hope for some families trying to keep homes out of foreclosure or buy homes through installment land contracts.

The Detroit story is a hard one to get your arms around, like so many things in Detroit.  The topline is that a suit led by the ACLU reached a settlement with the City of Detroit that may allow some families to stay in their homes.  As the Detroit News summarized,

The ACLU sued the city in Wayne County Circuit Court two years ago over how it administered the state-mandated property tax break for the poor, arguing it was inaccessible to the vast majority of homeowners who were needlessly losing their homes to foreclosure.

To be clear, the city didn’t allow lower income families to get the property tax exemption approved in state law and instead tallied the delinquent property taxes for several years and then after being in arrears for more than three years, foreclosed on the houses and put them up for sale at tax auction.  Nothing pretty about that story.  It’s almost a Ripley “believe or not” tale.

The settlement forces the city to have to step up.  As the Detroit News reports:

Under the plan, a group of homes headed to this year’s fall tax auction will instead be bought by the city and sold to owner-occupants who prove they qualified for the city’s poverty tax exemption, which lowers or eliminates tax bills.

All good so far, though it gets tricky.  Families that can prove that they were wronged have to buy back the homes for $1000, which, frankly, I don’t understand at all.  The money they say is going to come from private foundations.  The whole affair is being administered by some fantastic folks the ACORN Home Savers Campaign was privileged to meet earlier in the campaign at the United Community Housing Coalition.  UCHC has already qualified about one-hundred families.  There are more than 4000 homes scheduled for the fall auction with over 2000 occupied by owners or renters, so of course there is concern that there may be more people trying to win justice under the settlement than there is money available from foundations, but fingers crossed.  This is still good news and the city can’t claim to be protecting home owners from foreclosure even while cheating them earlier so I’m sure there will be a fix if there’s a shortfall.

In Cincinnati, an ordinance was passed unanimously to assure that any house offered under an installment land contract had to first establish that it was up to code.  Given the history of how companies have operated there, this is also a good step forward.

In both cities these are steps forward and offer hope of more progress for lower income tenants, potential homeowners, and existing homeowners in the future.

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New President in Mexico Could be Gamechanger

Source: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

New Orleans      AMLO as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is known, has been elected president of Mexico by a wide margin with his new party promising to end violence and corruption and run the government on a progressive platform.  Not only did Obrador win, but his coattails also are carrying his new party into office in several states and into a stronger position in the Mexican Congress.   His victory promises huge changes in the political and economic culture in Mexico and could reverberate to the benefit of the United States as well.

Despite news reports to the contrary, Obrador is not the Mexican Trump.  He is an experienced politician and former mayor of Mexico City.  He has also been a contender in previous elections, losing narrowly several years ago in an election his supporters still believe he won.

The only passing comparison to Trump might be the fact that he is disrupting the normal political class in Mexico, but in his case, it is avowedly for the common people of Mexico rather than the entitled and long-standing elites.  He campaigned aggressively on a progressive and reform platform.  In his victory speech Obrador couldn’t have been more inclusive saying,

“I call on all Mexicans to reconciliation, and to put above their personal interests, however legitimate, the greater interest, the general interest.  The state will cease to be a committee at the service of a minority and will represent all Mexicans, rich and poor, those who live in the country and in the city, migrants, believers and nonbelievers, to people of all philosophies and sexual preferences.”

He has promised to help farmers who have been hard hit, driving some of the migration pressure at the United States border.  He has promised to raise pensions for workers.  He has promised to review oil and other public contracts that have been sources of inefficiency and corruption and to fund some of his programs with the money saved from eliminating corruption.

As a progressive on the left, Obrador is already been baited by business interests invested in the status quo claiming he would be a Mexican version of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, but there is little evidence that this would be the case from his record.  The very huge size and scale of the country and its economy also means that using oil wealth as Chavez did, will not be possible in Mexico.  On the left, there are concerns that he has promised too much.  Sounds like he is in perfect position.

Who knows how deeply President Trump and his advisors understand this.  Hopefully they will not divert the hope here with ridiculous proposals for Mexico to pay for Trump’s folly, the border wall.  Regardless, the rest of us will have our fingers crossed that Obrador can turn the ship of state in the direction he has pledged.  A healthier and more equitable and secure Mexico is not only good for Mexicans but vitally important to the United States.

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Please enjoy Stop this War by At Pavillon.

Thanks to KABF.

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