Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marketplace Takes On Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Memphis — and its lawsuit against Wells Fargo — were featured on American Public Media's Marketplace last night.

Jeremy Hobson and local attorney Steve Barlow drove through Orange Mound, and they estimated that a third of the neighborhood's homes have gone into foreclosure.

In the lawsuit, the city alleges that Wells Fargo violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in what some call "reverse red-lining," targeting African-American families and neighborhoods for sub-prime loans. For more on that, click on this earlier story.

From Marketplace:

Attorney Steve Barlow says many of the former owners of these homes were doing just fine until lenders came along and convinced them to refinance or take on a second mortgage. An adjustable-rate loan that meant more cash in their pockets right away in exchange for a sky-high mortgage rate later. What's left for all to see is foreclosure after foreclosure.

Memphis mayor A C Wharton was quoted as saying the foreclosures have caused a big loss in property tax revenue. The piece also cited a statistic that between 2005 and 2008, the city lost 7,000 homeowners, two-thirds of them due to foreclosure.

Closer to home, the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center has begun filming what it calls "Blightwatch."

In this particular video, Peace & Justice showcases a home at 1253 Capital now owned by JP Morgan Chase. But the firm hasn't paid city or county property taxes on the home in the last three years, a debt that amounts to $2,099.27 in unpaid taxes.

That might not sound like a lot, but multiply that by the number of similar foreclosures and it starts to add up.

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