When the economy works for everyone, everyone benefits

At a time when so many people are still hurting and the economic recovery is fragile, we must work together to reduce the inequalities that make our economic challenges harder to overcome.  It’s a simple principle: when the economy works for everyone, everyone benefits.

To make this happen, we all have to get up off the sidelines and recognize that each of us has an obligation to play a constructive role.

Financial institutions must do everything they can to negotiate in good faith with homeowners to prevent foreclosure. We know that it costs $400 to prevent a foreclosure, but costs the public and the private sector up to $80,000 to put a home through foreclosure. It’s not only the right thing to do, it just makes sense. Banks and lenders need to do a lot more.

Local governments have a role to play, too, and in Minneapolis we have played it aggressively.  Since 2008, the City, working closely with nonprofits, has prevented 1,428 foreclosures — nearly a third of them in North Minneapolis. It’s not enough, but that represents a lot of people and families still in their homes.

We’ve done more. Working hand in hand with North Minneapolis neighborhood organizations and adv, the City sued a mortgage flipper that had been convicted of defrauding home buyers and sending their homes into foreclosure. We took 155 properties away from them and got them in the hands of responsible nonprofit partners and homeowners. We worked every step of the way with housing and foreclosure activists on that one.

We’ve taken many other steps to revitalize the neighborhoods that have been most heavily affected by the foreclosure crisis. We’ve purchased homes before speculators and unscrupulous landlords could. We’ve worked with nonprofit developers to revitalize properties and have hired disproportionate numbers of low-income people, women and people of color to do the work. And we’ve created incentives for families and community to people to buy them affordably.

This is work that we’ve been doing every day for more than four years. I wish we never had to it, but when the crisis hit, we responded.

Even with this work, the foreclosure crisis is bigger than all the resources that Minneapolis has to stop it. We simply can’t solve all the issues of the global economy in Minneapolis. We can, however, fight to close the gaps and level the playing field, and we will keep doing just that.

Every day, more and more people are unwilling to silently watch inequalities continue and watch the economy struggle more than it needs to as a result.  We must all ask more of each other and of ourselves.

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