Occupy Our Homes: Another Front in the Fight for Economic Justice

We’re watching with interest today as Occupy Our Homes, a new national coalition, takes the message of the 99% from public parks and city squares to residential neighborhoods. They’re pushing back against the big banks, with an eye on keeping struggling homeowners in their homes.

The events taking place around the country include marches, rallies and direct nonviolent action.

It’s a natural next step for growing the reach and power of the 99% movement. It connects the concerns the Occupy protesters raise over corporate accountability and inequality with the actual on-the-ground effects of those issues. And it makes the protests relevant to communities who may not be occupying squares themselves. Most importantly, it shows a path for organizing and social action to have real-world positive effects.

(Even some not-very-sympathetic-to-Occupy conservative bloggers have suggested an effort to occupy foreclosures makes sense.)

As Sarah Seltzer notes at Alternet, this effort links the economic justice focus of the Occupy protests with an active and growing, but under-reported, movement to fix our broken housing system.

For many occupiers, the exploitative nature of the foreclosure crisis, the fact that families are losing their homes while the bankers who engineered this fateful bubble get bonuses–these were the reasons they joined in September…This day of action will only be the spark plug for what organizers hope is a coordinated but spontaneous national campaign, offering a blueprint for communities to do similar eviction resistance around the country or to coordinate between already-active movements.

Foreclosure is devastating neighborhoods even as it benefits big banks. In the communities we visit every day, foreclosures are a demoralizing reminder of ongoing failures in our economy, and the effect that they have goes beyond the family who lose their home.

The effort of the Occupy movement to fight foreclosures has great potential—enough that Bank of America is concerned, sending an internal email to staff exposing its weaknesses.

As the Occupy Our Homes rallies take place California and Nevada’s state Attorneys General are also taking a big step to advance the cause of protecting homeowners, announcing a joint investigation into foreclosure fraud and banking-industry misconduct. It’s important that the fight for economic justice take place at both the governmental level and in communities and neighborhoods.

For more, check out this map of today’s Occupy Our Homes actions and listen to the stories of people facing down foreclosure.

Photo by Taber Andrew Bain on Flickr, via Creative Commons

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