Cops enforce illegal bank foreclosure
By Kris Hamel, Workers World, May 27, 2009
Detroit - Mark D. Fussner died May 22 after an hours-long shoot-out with police following the bailiff’s unsuccessful attempt to evict the 44-year-old homeowner. Two 24th District Court officers had come to Fussner’s home on Anne Street, in the working-class downriver Detroit suburb of Allen Park, to carry out a writ of eviction after foreclosure.
Fussner reportedly ordered the bailiffs to leave his property and said he would open fire to defend his home. They left but returned with armed cops determined to carry out the eviction. The bailiffs’ provocation led to the shoot-out.
Fussner was the author of the 2004 book “The Zen of Permanent Weight Loss,” which chronicled his struggle and method of conquering obesity. A short biography of the author on Amazon.com states: “Educated in public schools, Mark designed his first invention at 16 years of age. In 1989 he received an Associate’s [degree] in Science from Henry Ford Community College. Working his way up from the bottom, he has made his career in Design and Project Engineering. ... He has owned and co-owned several businesses.”
After a five-hour stand-off, Fussner was found dead in his basement from a gunshot wound. It is not yet clear if the fatal injury was self-inflicted or if a police bullet killed him. The homeowner had barricaded himself inside his dwelling and exchanged dozens of rounds with cops from at least five cities, including Detroit’s “special response teams” and Michigan State Police. An Allen Park police officer was shot in the arm, leg and stomach early in the stand-off and was released from the hospital the same day. (Detroit News, May 23)
Neighbors and cops reported anywhere from several dozen to hundreds of shots fired by Fussner and police during the incident. People were told to stay in their homes, and schools in the area were put on lock-down. The state police have taken over the investigation, and the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office will perform an autopsy on Fussner.
Moratorium must be enforced
What is missing from the limited stories in the big-business local media is that Fussner’s death and the entire eviction situation should not have happened under the law.
On May 20, two days before the visit from the eviction bailiffs and the ensuing gun battle that ended Fussner’s life, President Barack Obama signed public law no. 111-22, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009. By placing a moratorium on subject foreclosures, the law enhances provisions of the Making Home Affordable Program instituted in March.
The MHAP already requires Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other major lenders–which together hold approximately 75 percent of home mortgages in the U.S. and which have been bailed out with hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars—to work out loan modifications in order to avoid foreclosure. These lenders are to lower at-risk homeowners’ monthly payments—including property taxes and insurance—to no more than 31 percent of gross income.
Some of the 14 banks and lenders included under the program are Bank of America, Chase Home Finance, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, Ocwen and Wells Fargo. The MHAP guidelines apply to any homes that are owner-occupied, including homes that are already in foreclosure. (financialstability.gov)
Section 401 of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act states that it is “the sense of the Congress” that there be a “foreclosure moratorium” in that “mortgage holders, institutions, and mortgage servicers should not initiate a foreclosure proceeding or a foreclosure sale on any homeowner until the foreclosure mitigation provisions” of the Hope for Homeowners program and Obama’s “Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan” have “been implemented and determined to be operational by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary of the Treasury.” (thomas.loc.gov)
Where were the headlines on May 21 in the capitalist-owned press about the just-signed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and its foreclosure moratorium? There were none or very few.
Jerry Goldberg, a Detroit-based attorney who represents homeowners and renters in foreclosure and eviction cases, told Workers World: “The Register of Deeds records show that Mark Fussner’s mortgage was owned by Chase Bank, which had a duty under federal law to work out a solution that should have prevented the bailiff from coming to his home on May 20 to evict him.
“This eviction should not have happened. Fussner’s death should never have happened. It was entirely preventable except that banks and lenders don’t follow the law until they are forced to.”
It took a protracted struggle by activists around the country to win the new federal moratorium on foreclosures. It will take even more struggle to publicize this law and stop more deaths from occurring, as well as other drastic actions by homeowners who face the life-altering, heart-wrenching process of losing their homes in record numbers to foreclosure and eviction.