Part of what makes up your home is the neighborhood that surrounds it. When most of us were growing up, we were part of that neighborhood network. We knew each other’s families and were invited to each other’s milestone functions; be it birthday parties, graduations or weddings, we were all part of a human network. We would have block parties, sleepovers and meet and greets of any new citizens that may happen to buy a home in our little community of friends and neighbors.
When there was loss, we would all gather for those who needed us. We would all attend our local faith churches on Sunday mornings; dressing especially fine on Easter dawn, with our hats and gloves in beautiful hues of pastel yellows and greens. Our Patton leather shoes would reflect like mirrors in the post dawn glow of the sun. The smell of spring was heavy in the air and we were happy to communicate with those around us, being filled with a spirit that came from being connected as human beings.
Our parents and grandparents would go to the local bank, which had no ties to the types of banking industries that flood our nation today, and transact mortgages that helped the borrower and the community. There were people that had to pick up the other end of the phone line because there were no answering machines and other ways of avoiding the customer. In a time when we are more connected to the outer world than we have ever been, we find it is virtually impossible, in some instances, to actually get to a human being. Curious.
Our fast advancement into the future has left us as a society that does not feel the need to interact with their neighborhoods as much anymore as we did in the past. We utilize Facebook, Twitter and all other types of social media to avoid physically interacting with those around us. We have become a guarded world; unable to trust one another, because no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, and it can be downright scary to find out.
Not all neighborhoods have been reduced to this. I have had the privilege of sharing camaraderie in neighborhoods that still seem to understand that you stand stronger as a community by standing together with your neighbors; getting to know one another, breaking bread and sharing stories.
However, as nice as this all sounds, the reality is that our neighborhoods have been, and continue to be, torn apart. That nice house down the street where a family of five had lived for the past fifteen years, stands vacant and lifeless; weeds climbing up the sides of the foundation, the home looking more and more weathered with each passing year that it does not sell. Many homes can’t sell, because there is some type of litigation that has tied the property up for years; therefore providing no home for a family; only setting empty and dark, deteriorating with time. Should the house sell, the price has plummeted due to the repairs that need to be done to the property due to years of neglect from the banks, whom through forgery and fraud, became responsible for taking care of the properties in the first place.
For over the past seven years more than four million family homes have been foreclosed on. The media would have you believe that the housing market is booming; however, it is only going to be a short time before you see the next wave of foreclosures coming and that this is far from over. Decades of litigation are in the works as daily discoveries of criminal and fraudulent acts are being brought to our attention at break neck speed; confirming that banks have illegally foreclosed on vast amounts of homeowners, therefore, bringing into question whether or not the banks have the legal right to keep the foreclosed homes they are trying to sell.
Families have been bisected by divorce, due to the inability of some to weather the storm of such a financial upheaval in their lives. They have been forced to the streets, through proven frauds, unable to rent because of the destruction that has been done to their credit; praying someone will understand enough to give them a chance. Many will be met with reluctance because the standing opinion is that if you are in, or have been in, foreclosure, it has to be the homeowner’s fault; either by no excuse ignorance or just not paying one’s bills.
Some individuals, who could not bear the strain, left this world in a tragic way; feeling stripped of their pride, possessions and worth. They felt that they had nothing left to contribute to this world and they chose death over fighting to get back on their feet again against these legal backed giants.
As I reflect back on a bygone era of neighborhoods like the one that I grew up in; I am saddened that I find myself as one of those described in this writing. I have slowly began to bring myself out of my self-imposed shell, actually going over and meeting a new neighbor that moved in kitty-corner to the back side of my property. It did not kill me and I found it to be a pleasant experience. It becomes hard to interact when you become hardened by your experiences.
I don’t know if we will be able to get back to the days where families spend a lifetime in their neighborhoods; where children grow up and become adults with childhood friends. I know that there are neighborhoods like this that still exist, but they are getting few and far between. Our downtowns have lost their businesses and our neighborhoods have lost their souls. Families have become transient never knowing for sure how long they will be under the next roof; or even if there will be a next roof. These people have lost lifelong friends, family members and connections due to the misconceptions that the banks have done nothing wrong. People have lost faith in their ability to demand public trust and people have lost their ability to see past the smokescreens that are placed in front of them every day of their lives.
For those who have survived it unscathed we say thank you to God, for he is the true reason that you have been protected. However, realize that your neighbors have not been so lucky. They have found out that their investments have been recklessly gambled upon, with the odds definitely in favor of the house (banks). They were part of a huge gamble that didn’t pay off and were unaware of it until they were losing their homes. For those who found documents forged and fraud throughout their transactions with these banks and those who chose to stand their ground and fight; this has been a nightmare. I liken it to having a burglar break into your home; when the offender is caught the courts turn around and give the criminal the keys to your house.
So even though I wish that we could go back to the days of the true neighborhood; where families took root and generations would flourish, the reality is that for many neighborhoods that will not happen. What were family homes will turn into rentals that will usher in new families from year to year. Pride in one’s community will falter when there are no roots to keep it fixed.