I love the smell of grass roots in the evenin’!

Tonight was Common Ground Wisconsin’s big hearing on foreclosed homes in the Milwaukee County War Memorial from 7 to 9 PM. The hearing was specifically about the over 10,000 filed for foreclosure homes in Milwaukee County. 1,348 homes are bank owned. Two thirds of these homes have been subject to building code violations. When the homes do receive a violation neither the old owner nor the new owner (national and international banks such as: US Bank, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank (a German bank based in Frankfurt), and Wells Fargo) pay these violations leaving the tax payers of Milwaukee County to deal with the fees. The banks who own the foreclosed homes are absentee landlords, who do not keep up with the maintenance nor the safety of these homes. Many of the neighborhoods in which these homes are located report higher crime rates due to the criminals who take these foreclosed homes over. Some of the testimony given at the hearing was astounding. A woman reported having to hid in her garage after violent squatters in the foreclosed home next to hers came after her. It then took the police two hours to come to her aid. This is unacceptable, and the banks need to take responsibility. Common Ground is working on a grass roots movement to get the organizations associated with Common Ground and people of Milwaukee County to speak up to the banks and get them to take responsibility.


If you want more information or to get involved in Common Ground and Common Ground’s activism in the problem of foreclosed homes click here.


7 Responses

  1. When banks foreclose and take a house back they don’t have to keep it safe and keep it clean? Doesn’t that violate several laws?

  2. yes, hence “building code violations” which are being paid by the tax payers since the banks are absentee landlords and there is no actual person to track down to make them pay. One of the biggest violators, Deutsche Bank is not even in the country!

  3. How is there no actual person to track down. Its a fricking bank you go to the bank and say “pay up or the city takes the house”.

  4. I would assume the city has tried to contact the banks to no avail. If you have more questions, as stated in the post, refer to common ground’s website.

  5. I can’t speak for other cases, but I know someone who lives next door to a Milwaukee home that is “in foreclosure.”

    The only problem is, the home isn’t actually in foreclosure. The neighbors moved out last March, knowing they couldn’t make payments or continue with any of the improvements they’d undertaken. Foreclosure was inevitable.

    So they left. But the bank has not foreclosed yet. Why? Because there is no incentive. The house is run down, worth half what is owed on it, and taking control of it would mean the bank would have to pay taxes, upkeep, etc., and probably be unable to sell it. If the city came and said they would take the house, I’m sure the bank would hand it over with a smile. The city won’t do this because they become responsible.

    I am not saying who is right here, I am only saying that everyone involved is acting in a completely logical manner. You have to change the situation driving the logic of it to get them to act a different way.

    One thing I find interesting is the taxpayers picking up the tab on the building code violations. That is outrageous. How does that work? If the City has a legal claim on a fine against a bank, especially a visible one like Deutsche bank (they are everywhere; it doesn’t matter that their HQ is in Germany).

  6. *sigh*

  7. The issue with the banks is that 1. they not only have no motivation to take care of some of the run-down homes but 2. they have no motivation to sell the homes to individual buyers. One of the testimonies heard was by a relator who was trying to buy a bank-owned home for a church, as-is and the payment would be in cash. The bank was extremely hard to deal with, since it prefers to sell 10 homes to one buyer or hold on to them until the market value goes up.

    I’m uncertain as to why the banks are not being held more accountable, I am aware that it doesn’t matter where Deutsche bank’s HQ is.

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