How The Foreclosure Crisis Targeted Women
by Sarah Jaffe
Mildred Obi marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was 16; I met her in Atlanta a little over a year ago, April 15, 2015, standing outside of a McDonald’s overrun with striking fast-food workers who were chanting: “We shut it down!” after successfully getting the management of the store to lock its doors.
I was in Atlanta reporting on Occupy Our Homes for my upcoming book, and Obi told me her story as we walked alongside the “Fight for $15” march. After having to leave the workforce due to a disability, she had trouble paying her mortgage and tried to get her bank to work with her so that she could stay in her house. But nothing worked, and she was foreclosed upon in 2009, as the collapse of the housing bubble ramped up foreclosures. She reached out to her bank, or what she thought was her bank—her original mortgage was with notorious lender Countrywide, which was swallowed up after the financial crisis by Bank of America. But somewhere in there, she realized, U.S. Bank also had some sort of claim on her mortgage.
“It’s just a maze,” she told me. “You really don’t know who to go after if you’re really fighting. And then I couldn’t afford an attorney, so I would sit up at night—I have a visual impairment—researching, going to law libraries, researching.”
What Obi was struggling with is the subject of journalist David Dayen’s excellent new book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.
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