Why Obama’s Foreclosure Relief Program Won’t Help You and Why Black Journalists Won’t Tell You

27 Oct

Are you next?

by Yvette Carnell

I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I’ve watched pundits and politicians alike herald President Obama’s mortgage relief program as a savior for homeowners. The status quo seems to rally around mortgage refinance programs because they lower the homeowner’s monthly note, thus reducing the number of foreclosures. All good things right? It depends.

What’s missing from the conversation is how the reverberations we’re now feeling are all the consequence of a massive market bubble bursting. Before that bubble burst, however, home prices were overvalued, and now, after the bust, home prices are somewhat undervalued. And although it is true that they may edge up a bit in the coming years, they’ll never again reach the price values for which they were originally sold. All this means that if you’re underwater now, you’re underwater forever.

Say for instance that your home is only worth 60% of its original price. It would help you tremendously if your lender shaved off the overvalued 40% and refinanced your home at the current (real) value, but that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) are lowering the payments so that you’re less likely to walk away and leave the bank holding the bag.

And what of all the bank fraud cases still pending where banks foreclosed on homes without proof of ownership? If a homeowner with a pending suit opts to take advantage of Obama’s retooled program, what is the impact of banks getting a spanking brand new deed from a homeowner? Do these fraud cases just go away?

Since the black community has been disproportionately battered by foreclosures during this downturn, it would only make sense that African American centric media outlets would investigate these claims, but that ain’t happening. Among journalists, our white media observers have been much more outspoken (see here and here) on how Obama’s new plan doesn’t pass the smell test than their African Americans counterparts. Over at Newsone, whose tagline is news “for black America”, they initially opted to link to an AP story in lieu of doing any original reporting on the issue. The next day, Newsone published a short snippet about changes to  HARP, the crux of which was a quote from the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, over at hallelujah headquarters, the Washington Post owned publication theroot didn’t offer any critical review of Obama’s revamped foreclosure plan on their politics or news page, although they did offer up an article, “Ask Obama, and Ye Shall Receive?”, which gives credence to the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde relationship that black voters have with Obama;  he’s a demi-God until he falls short, in which case, he’s just one man. This is, of course, the unified and schizophrenic reaction of black folks – including black media – to Obama.

For me, it all begs the question of whether one of the lasting legacies of Obama’s presidency will be the total annihilation of the African American bullshit detector.  Lazy journalism spurs lazy thinking. Uncritical reporting gives way to popular acquiescence of empty platitudes like “Change We Can Believe In” and more recently, “Winning the Future”.   Instead of grappling with the real issues and their accompanying implications, black media outlets are either ignoring the issues or repackaging the administration’s presentation and misrepresenting it as real reporting.  The problem, however, is that reporting such as this is too abstract to be of any use to anyone. It’s anti-intellectual coverage of an acutely intellectual, and cunning, President.

And I just don’t see how you can call yourself a black news outlet if you aren’t doing a story on how these changes to the HARP will specifically impact black people. Isn’t the whole point of being a black outlet to serve the black community? How does that work if you’re just volleying the ball back over to the Washington Post?

If we-those who are expected to be the guardians of the black perspective-are this lazy in our approach to news gathering and deciphering, I shudder to think what new plans are being hatched to befuddle and bamboozle us. We make it way too easy.


9 Responses to “Why Obama’s Foreclosure Relief Program Won’t Help You and Why Black Journalists Won’t Tell You”

  1. WizardG October 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Everything will be understood by the masses (hopefully) If they would just understand that this government is run by corrupted men and women acting as politicians and bureaucrats but surely working for a shadow elite-cabal (A Cabal made up of Anglos and Jews) which basically runs the world! The obvious signs are blatantly popping up all around us! Mr. Obama is nothing to us! Even though the elite’s utterly corrupt media makes convoluted gestures for or against him, he will do nothing for us! He nor any other politician or government official is working in favor of ‘the people’. This is why we will always struggle suffer and die in a constant battle for truth, justice, and the “American” way. The American way being the ‘white way’ and the only way we know!

    There is no waking from this nightmare, and there aren’t enough psychiatrists in the world to help our “black” community overcome this grave travesty more than a century after sanctioned/treasured slavery! At the rate we are being deceived and genocidally picked-off, I predict that a century from now there will be a vast decrease in the number of “blacks” inhabiting this whole planet! Property ownership in this white-supremacist dominated climate is the least of our worries!

  2. David2001 October 28, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    The lack of criticism of Obama and other politicians who are black by black media is nothing new. The fear of feeding into racism among whites is usually the lame excuse given. All you have to do is look at the conditions of many of our inner cities with black politicians running them to know what was in store with electing a black president. You rarely see any in depth investigating reporting about black politicians not addressing issues in black communities. The fact that white own entities began buying up black owned media, blogs and magazines certainly hasn’t made things any better.

  3. Jim Buckner October 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    You fail to say that the difference with HARP is, though underwater, owners stay in their homes with the opportunity of some price appreciation versus being underwater and losing their homes at today’s rates. No one forced the buyers to buy at inflated prices and those inflated prices are still likely to be less inflated than in other communities. Gangs, crime and the failure of elected officials (African-American and nonAfrican-American) to support economic initiatives in African-American communities have contributed more to their housing devaluation than anything else.

    In my neighborhood, 98% of the construction jobs are being performed by nonAfrican-American workers. I see many 100% nonBlack crews and not a single 100% Black crew. And most of the African-Americans working at such sites are either security or signholders; in other words, the jobs that pay $10/hour or less versus the construction workers who make $58 to $86/hour. (They make more in one hour than the Africian-Americans make in one day.) Change that and watch the foreclosure rate drop in these communities. That’s what you need to be talking about rather than finding ways to bash Obama. In fact, now that your view has been published, what is your solution?

    • Yvette Carnell October 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

      Actually, it would be best to walk away from a home that is highly overvalued. If your home is valued at $150,000 and you have a $250,000 mortgage, it makes no sense to stay. Your home will never regain its original value. You would be better off taking the hit to your credit and paying the tax on the foreclosure, which will be considerably less than the difference between your home’s purchase price and its current valuation.

      You said, “Gangs, crime and the failure of elected officials (African-American and nonAfrican-American) to support economic initiatives in African-American communities have contributed more to their housing devaluation than anything else.”

      Your assumption rests on the assumption that blacks are a homogeneous group, in that we don’t have class divisions, and we all live in gang and rat infested “hoods”. That’s a vast oversimplification and you, as an intelligent sounding person, should know better.

      We can argue about why blacks are unemployed or underemployed, but that really isn’t the issue here is it? You’re deflecting.

      • Jim Buckner November 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

        Please provide the math that supports your assertions.

  4. Otis L Griffin November 1, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    thank you sistah for the ‘game ‘m inside the ‘game’Summers & G heistner ( as n rip off) are leading Obama down a path of destruction.

  5. Yvette Carnell November 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    @Jim Buckner.

    There is no “math”. If you walk away from a home, you owe the tax on the loss incurred by the lender, nothing more. It’s simple logic.

    • Jim Buckner November 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

      I can see your problem. Your assumptions are the answer, not what leads to the answer. The reason math IS important: What are the terms by which most African Americans finance their home? That is, the length of the mortgage, the down payment and the interest rate? What is the average pay off rate of these mortgages? The monthly PT&I&I? What is the average amount of “under-water” mortgages? Do you know? Like communities in which African Americans stay and you so aptly point out, there are variations. But also like communities in which African Americans stay, which you fail to point out, the great preponderance are alike.

      • Yvette Carnell November 7, 2011 at 3:58 am #

        Your problem, Buckner, is that you’re more focused on proving me wrong than actually following the logic, but it’s really quite simple. Paying the tax on your 1099-C (the loss the bank incurs), is often times cheaper than paying an extra 50 or 100K on an underwater mortgage. I don’t quite understand how or why you find this simple construct so confounding. Paying tax on a loss is often cheaper than paying off an underwater mortgage. Are there exceptions? Sure. But this isn’t quantum mechanics we’re discussing. And no one, not me or anyone else, is making a hard and fast recommendation to ALL homeowners . What I said in the article, if you cared to pay attention, was that Obama’s plan may not be the best option, let alone a savior, for underwater homeowners. (F.Y.I.- If I waited until I had the specifics for each underwater homeowner, I’d never write anything, conjur any formulations. So that line of illogic is a red herring).

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