Viewpoint: Where’s Housing in the ‘Occupy’ Protests?

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Did the voices of the housing crisis just get swallowed up by the anti-Wall Street protests? Marches, sit-ins and confrontations with police — all part of the Occupy Wall St. movement that organizers say was birthed organically and fed through social media outlets — are happening in major cities across the country. Without question, windows across America have opened and, just like in the movie “Network,” people are shouting “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

The only problem is that homeowners caught in the foreclosure crisis also stuck their heads out those windows and save for a fleeting few seconds, the take-to-the-streets protests have ignored them in favor of taking corporate greed to task. Nowhere on the main Occupy Wall St. website is housing even mentioned. (Pictured above are protesters in Los Angeles.)

Before you accuse us of wearing blinders, it’s worth noting that just a few weeks ago, a coalition of community groups called The New Bottom Line organized a nationwide 10-city protest aimed at stopping foreclosures, demanding that banks reduce principal loan amounts of all underwater mortgages and that Wall Street stop hoarding the trillions of dollars it got in stimulus money and start funding small business’ efforts to create jobs. Hallelujah to that, we say.

Seeing commonality with the Occupy Wall St. troops, The New Bottom Line demonstrators have joined forces with the faster-spreading Occupiers. The New Bottom Line co-director Tracy Van Slyke says that the excitement generated by the larger protests taking place will transfer energy — over time — to relief for housing. Let’s hope so. The millions of displaced families who lost their homes to foreclosures deserve a voice shouting on their behalf.

Where The New Bottom Line had been focused on the housing struggles facing the lower and middle class, Occupy appeals to a younger demographic — those hard hit by rising unemployment and emotionally about as far away from losing a family home to foreclosure as you can likely be.

About all they have in common is anger, which ultimately may be enough.

Also see:
Foreclosed Homeowner ‘Booby-Traps’ Home

Realtors’ Latest Challenge: A Surge of Squatters
Foreclosure Rescue Scammers Busier — and Trickier — Than Ever

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