Fifty Common Ground leaders traveled to the State Capitol on April 7 to attend a hearing of the Committee of Financial Institutions in support of Rep. Jon Richards Foreclosure Accountability Bill (AB 816). The bill, developed in response to the CG Faces of Foreclosure Campaign, requires the State of Wisconsin refrain from doing business with banks that have more than 100 homes in foreclosure.
To begin the public hearing Rep. Richards breifly explained the Faces of Foreclosure Campaign and introduced the bill to the committee. After he spoke CG leaders delivered testimony to the committee:
Jenny Vellinga explained the background of the foreclosure crisis and CG’s involvement and goals.
Pastor Jason Butler told about his church’s ordeal attempting to purchase a foreclosed house from Wells Fargo in Sherman Park.
Joy Botts spoke about the impact of vacant foreclosed homes on the quality of life and property values in her Sherman Park neighborhood.
Mary Leach-Sumlin addressed the issues of property damage, speculators and rent-to-own scams.
Frank Finch III talked about the quality of life and houses destroyed beyond rehabilitation in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
Marecca Vertin, a Marquette University student, told about neighbors with young children who had to abandon their home, and about the condemned property next door.
Pastor Willie Davis spoke about the crime, vandalism and safety issues in the Amani neighborhood around his church.
Pastor Bobby Sinclair addressed the impact to the larger community and the legal and legislative actions being taken by cities and states around the nation to address foreclosure issues.
Pastor Joseph McLin shared his observations about the irresponsible actions of banks in the foreclosure crisis, and the impact of those actions on his congregation and family.
Throughout the hearing, the committee members, led by Rep. Jason Fields, asked thoughtful questions and offered insightful remarks. The only testimony against the bill was presented by a representative of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, who advocated for other approaches to address the foreclosure crisis, none of which are contrary to the direction of CG
Since there were only two weeks left in this legislative session as of the date of the hearing, it is not clear if the bill would be released by the committee intime to go to the Assemby. Nevertheless, the leaders who attended felt that the process had been a success. The goals of the Faces of Foreclosure campaign had been well represented and received in a public forum.