After over a year of pressure from grassroots organizations like Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, former head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Ed DeMarco has been fired. There’s a new boss overseeing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his name is Mel Watt.
Today American Friends Service Committee joined members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, including struggling homeowners Zannie Jackson and Nancy Daniell who are facing foreclosure at the hands of Fannie and Freddie respectively, in throwing a welcoming party for Director Watt at the Atlanta regional office of Fannie Mae. Like any good party there was cake, balloons, and even a great big greeting card for Mel Watt.
Residents and community members spoke about Mel Watt’s potential to help communities around the country, and what we believe should be his main priorities at the FHFA.
We know that Mel Watt has the potential to be a great community partner and work to keep people in their homes. However, we want him to know that we plan on holding him accountable every step of the way. While Mel Watt has already taken steps to distance himself from DeMarco, we want to make sure he starts working on the things communities need right away.
Mel Watt has the power to relief struggling homeowners of dept that insures loans will remain underwater for years if not forever. We hope that Watt will also turn over vacant properties to community groups to be used for affordable/transitional housing units. As city's like Atlanta continue to see the number of homeless increase, it's painful to see empty homes in struggling communities.
After we gathered in front of Fannie Mae's regional head quarters, signed our cards, and each shared our hope and dreams for Mel Watt, we decided it was time to deliver our giant greeting card, the cake, and the balloons! Zannie and Nancy also delivery copies of their online petitions to save their homes. Well, it turns out the surprise was on us! Fannie Mae decided to tell the private security force not to allow us in the building, and not to accept our greeting card.
Never ones to leave the job undone, we simply went around the side of the building and delivered our package at the building loading dock, where it was gladly accepted!