Debt


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The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., a multi-issue economic justice organization, is requesting your help in organizing a news conference next Monday (March 11) to discuss the impact of sequester on our community. We will invite area residents and leaders of local human services agencies to highlight the significant cuts to programs and services that will occur if Congress does not take action. Those gathered will discuss how these automatic cuts to domestic spending will have a devastating impact on our local community.

We need your assistance to make this event a success. Please contact us if you or your agency can speak and share information on how these cuts will cripple serves for our most vulnerable citizens. We are also compiling data on the possible impact of these cuts.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. will be providing in the next day detailed information as to the location, date, and time for the event. Please let us know if you can serve as a speak or know of individuals and clients who can tell their stories of how federally funded programs have made a difference in their lives.

We also need help in the following ways: making posters, conducting a short survey of local groups, making calls to invite individuals and groups to attend.

Please respond to the following email address: cnycitizenaction@gmail.com. You can also call me at 315-725-0974.

Thank you for your support.

Best,

John Furman

John Furman
President
Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.
P.O. Box 411
Utica, NY 13503-0411
315-725-0974
cnycitizenaction@gmail.com

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Facing foreclosure, Mary Smith of 53 Cutler Street, Rochester, NY 14621, is pledging to stay in her home and not let American Tax Funding put her out of her longtime home.  Take Back the Land Rochester is pledging to support her. Mary and her community are prepared to nonviolently resist attempts to displace if necessary.

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Her house is scheduled to go to auction 10am February 26 at the Monroe County Office Building. A petition circulated both by door-to-door canvassing and online posting is calling for ATF to call off the auction and negotiate. Over 525 signatures have been received to date and the number continues to grow.

Mary Smith has lived at 53 Cutler Street for 30 years, raising six children. She paid off her mortgage to ES&L 12 years ago. She is the Vice President of the Cutler Street Plus Block Club and has been a commanding force in the community for decades. She is affectionately known as the “Mayor of Cutler Street,” who has severed hundreds of hotdogs to neighbor kids at kickball games. In her dining room she displays a large promotional poster featuring her as a poster person for volunteerism.

Although Mary has a long history of paying her bills, serious health problems have fell on Mary and she fell behind on her taxes.  Although she always tried to catch up it seemed she was only paying off the interest. To make matters worse, the City of Rochester and the County of Monroe sold her tax liens to a for-profit company in Florida called American Tax Funding (ATF).  A predatory privatization scheme, American Tax Funding charges usurious interest on the liens of Rochester residents going through financial hardship even though it buys the liens from the City and the County from .43 to 49 cents on the dollar.

After having serious health problems that often left her unable to work, Mary has now qualified for disability, has steady income, and is willing and able to pay off her liens to American Tax Funding.  However, despite repeated attempts to set up payment plans and, to work out a settlement.  ATF will not answer her lawyer’s calls and is planning to auction off her house for as much profit as possible on February 26, 2013.  Mary is courageously and defiantly standing up against American Tax Funding and we stand will her.  An auction protest is scheduled for 10am at February 26 at the County Building and a community eviction defense is planned if ATF (or an investor ATF sells the house to) tries evict the Mary from her home.

On Monday, February 11th, Mary and a dozen supporters from Take Back the Land Rochester hand delivered a letter pleading her case to the local law firm, Phillips Lyttle, representing American Tax Funding.  There is an early but preliminary indication of movement by ATF as a result of the letter.  You can stay updated at http://TakeBackthelandRochester.org/MarySmith

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The Occupy Wall Street and Strike Debt campaign Rolling Jubilee launched its first foray into debt abolition. Strike Debt raised over half a million dollars through donations and a highly publicized telethon. This money can buy up debt for pennies on the dollar and, unlike debt collection agencies, Strike Debt will simply abolish this debt. With the money raised so far, Strike Debt will be able to abolish over $10,000,000 worth of debt.

With the first round of debt abolition, the organization bought up $100,000 worth of distressed medical debt from 44 residents in Upstate New York for only $5,000. The randomly selected people will receive a festively wrapped package in the mail with the notification that their debt has been bought and abolished. Copies of The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual, which was written and printed by Strike Debt, will also be sent to these 44 fortunate people.

Strike Debt is planning on using many of the funds raised to abolish medical debt. A report released in January by the American Journal of Medicine found that 62% of all bankruptcies in the US are for medical debt so it only makes sense to target this form of debt. The group is also planning to create a data base so there is a degree of transparency and openness over what kind of debt they actually abolish.

This abolition of debt is occurring at the same time that HSBC was found to have laundered billions of dollars into Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. The Justice Department refused to pursue criminal prosecutions against anyone at the big bank. As the government continues to bail out corrupt big banks, even when they finance drug cartels and break countless laws, Strike Debt is instead focusing on bailing out the 99% and relieving those that suffer from the stranglehold of debt.

Brendan Maslauskas Dunn

For more information visit http://www.strikedebt.org