Tour Shines a Light on Bank Blight

SEIU 721 members and community activists took LA city officials and candidates on a bus tour of blighted bank-owned homes in South LA.
Organized by SEIU 721, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and Good Jobs LA, the tour highlighted the impact banks truly have on middle- and low-income areas. Union and community members made presentations to tell the participants why the city should strengthen the ordinance that allows it to fine banks $1,000 a day if blighted homes aren’t cleaned up.
Banks own 2,000 homes in LA. Another 10,000 are threatened with foreclosure. This means LA faces potential costs of more than $200 million if banks aren’t motivated to stop foreclosures and clean up the mess.
The city has the tool to do it–the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance, passed on 2010. But in three years, the city hasn’t collected a dime.
“I went on the tour to ring an alarm bell about blight. Banks caused the financial crisis that led to all these foreclosures and now they aren’t cleaning them up. If the city had enforced the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance, it could have fined banks $45 million. That means a lot to me as a city worker and a taxpayer.”
-Myran Cotton, LA City Parking Attendant

Another tour participant, University of California Irvine Law Professor Katherine Porter, came because she is California’s Monitor for the national mortgage settlement. The settlement requires some of the country’s largest banks to keep foreclosed properties in good condition. Prof. Porter wanted to see whether the banks are complying with the national mortgage settlement.
“Seeing homes in this condition is terrible. The city has put the economic crisis on our backs, but the banks are the ones to blame. Not only did they go after families who couldn’t pay mortgages, but they left the foreclosed homes to rot and bring property values down around them.”
-Charles Harrell, LA City Traffic Officer

“The banks obviously aren’t doing what they should. If the city doesn’t make them clean up or pay up, people will stop trusting City Hall. The City Council and the mayor need to start enforcing the law on these banks.”
-Damon Bergeron, LA City Traffic Officer

Tour participants pledged to continue urging the city to improve and enforce it’s blight ordinance.
For more information and to get involved, call the SEIU 721 Member Connection: (877) 721-4968.