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By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, October 2008-The Bush Administration urgently pressed Congress yesterday for the quick passage of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, a plan that many feel doesn’t take into account the real problem or the real victims. Right now, as Congress attempts to rescue Wall Street, they have the opportunity to shore up Main Street by adopting bankruptcy provisions that would keep millions of families in their homes.

As negotiations take place on Capitol Hill, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, AARP, and the Center for Responsible Lending joined with struggling homeowner Candace Weaver on a press call yesterday to urge Congress to not forget about everyday Americans caught up in the mortgage meltdown.

“As long as American families are losing their homes to foreclosure, Wall Street will continue to lose money,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The bailout that is being proposed is a clean cut bill that will simply dig Wall Street out of the mess in which it finds itself, not paying any attention to the many thousands of homeowners who are struggling because of the ripple effects of the mortgage crisis.

“The bailout proposal will turn its back on the 6.5 million homes that will be lost to foreclosure over the next few years, and this will risk the entire health of the homeowning sector,” said Martin Eakes, CEO of the Center for Responsible Lending and founder of Self-Help. “The only way that we can make Wall Street healthy again is by helping struggling homeowners meet their mortgage obligations and keep their homes,” added Zirkin.

“Right now, Congress has the power to implement a solution that will stop the foreclosure epidemic,” added Eakes. “A bailout will not work to stabilize the economy if it doesn’t address home foreclosures and falling home prices,” he continued.
“The government is bailing out the companies that did the wrong thing, and they are ignoring the homeowners who are now the victims,” said Candace Weaver, middle school teacher who is struggling to keep her family’s home. “The media wants you to think that homeowners aren’t calling and working with their mortgage companies when there is a problem,” added Weaver. “If we don’t fight, they win,” she added.

“The message here is clear in that the government needs to aid the victims, and not just bail out the predator,” said Bertha Lewis, interim chief organizer of ACORN.

The bailout proposal is looking to help the wrong people, and the millions of homeowners who make up and contribute to the economic wellbeing of this country have the right to be helped as well. “We need to amend the bankruptcy laws because it is a myth that the banks are trying to work with mortgage lenders to modify mortgages,” said Lewis. Without the bankruptcy provision, which would allow bankruptcy judges to reset mortgages for families on the brink of foreclosure, the rescue bill does little to help struggling homeowners.