After banks and regulators threatened to redline and boycott communities hardest hit by the housing crisis, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:
"The housing crisis for working families, and communities of color in particular, is far from over. Yet regulators and banks have done little to support struggling homeowners. Many economists have called for broadly reducing the mortgage principal for underwater homeowners but banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have blocked federal action at every turn.
"Tired of waiting on the banks and regulators, community groups, and labor unions, including SEIU members, are taking action to find solutions locally.
"In one effort, advanced by Richmond, California and other cities, the cities are stepping in to acquire troubled mortgages, with the goal of fixing them and keeping homeowners in their homes. If the current loan holders refuse to cooperate, these cities will consider the use of eminent domain to acquire the loans and pay the banks/bondholders fair market value as required by law.
"The Federal Housing Finance Agency has essentially threatened a boycott of cities exploring this option to help their residents and communities even though the law says these are clearly local decisions. We should be encouraging, not blocking or punishing, communities search for legal and development tools to help homeowners and stabilize neighborhoods devastated by the housing crisis.
"SEIU members are standing with these local communities. Given the shameful lack of action federally, it should be no surprise that hard-hit communities are searching for local solutions. We are calling on our elected representatives to join us in standing with Richmond, CA and other cities that are advancing this local strategy."