Earlier this year, Jocelyne Voltaire of Queens, New York lost her oldest son, an Iraq war veteran. An auction is scheduled for today to sell her foreclosed home. Since news of her story broke, a grassroots effort has sprung up to help. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin today’s show on the housing and economic crisis. Earlier this week, an unlikely critic emerged of the government’s massive bailout of the financial industry. Sheila Bair, the chair of the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, criticized the federal government for failing to take more aggressive steps to prevent Americans from losing their homes.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bair said, “We’re attacking it at the institution level as opposed to the borrower level, and it’s the borrowers defaulting. That is what’s causing the distress at the institution level. So why not tackle the borrower problem?”
Bair said that the financial markets and the economy are unlikely to stabilize until home prices stop falling. In April she proposed that the Treasury Department develop a plan to make loans to as many as one million homeowners to minimize foreclosures. But the plan was opposed within the Bush administration.
AMY GOODMAN: In a few minutes, we’ll be joined by Paul Craig Roberts, who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration. But first, we turn to a report produced by the American News Project about a mother in Queens, New York who faces foreclosure today. Her name is Jocelyne Voltaire. Earlier this year, her oldest son was killed in Iraq. An auction is scheduled to take place today to sell her home.
NARRATOR: Just a few miles from where the debates will be held, we visited Queens Village and the home of Jocelyne Voltaire. Her family moved to America from Haiti forty-five years ago. She worked three jobs to put herself through college and, in 1987, was able to put $55,000 down on a house. For her, it was the American dream, raising her three children in her own home.
JOCELYNE VOLTAIRE: This is my dream. The house is my dream. I have been living here for twenty — more than twenty years.
NARRATOR: Now, that dream is about to be shattered. Jocelyne has fallen victim to a predatory lending scam, the kind of scam that’s been crippling the economy in recent weeks.
JOCELYNE VOLTAIRE: Now they’re trying to take my welfare away. I cannot able to eat. I cannot able to feed my family. My house being in jeopardy. Now they said to me, “You have seventeen days to put your house on auction.”
NARRATOR: On October 17th, her house will be auctioned off.
JOCELYNE VOLTAIRE: About 11:00, they said to me, “Are you Jocelyne Voltaire?” I said, “Yes.” I said, “What happened?” “Well, we have a bad news for you.”
NARRATOR: Just weeks after she received news of her foreclosure, Jocelyne was struck by another costly event facing our nation: the war in Iraq. She was informed that her oldest son, a soldier in the Navy, was killed in the line of duty.
JOCELYNE VOLTAIRE: This is hurt inside! This is very hurt! Nobody offered me no place to go, to spill it out, what been hurting me inside! I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. I’m living with the pain every day, every day, because that was my first son, because I thought he was the one who was going to bury me. We kill him alive now. I keep cry and cry and cry and scream. Sometime the neighbors said to me, “Don’t scream. Don’t cry.” I cannot help it. My son’s birthday was October 7. Mine going to be October 22nd. We always celebrate together. I don’t have no more cards coming. I don’t have no flowers coming. I don’t have no Happy Mother’s Day no more. I don’t have no — my son used to come and bring flowers. Where are they? I lost all.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I know many of you are frustrated with the situation. You make sacrifices every day to meet your mortgage payments and keep up with your bills. When the government asks you to pay for mistakes on Wall Street, it does not seem fair, and I understand that.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: The stakes couldn’t be higher. We need to get the American economy back on the path of recovery and growth and job creation.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: We are all going to need to sacrifice. We’re all going to need to pull our weight, because now, more than ever, we are all in this together.
JOCELYNE VOLTAIRE: I cannot even express myself to explain to you my feeling. Even I explain to you, you will never know. No one never going to know.
AMY GOODMAN: That was a report by Steven Greenstreet of American News Project. Since ANP posted the video on its site two days ago, a grassroots effort has sprung up to help Jocelyne Voltaire save her home today. The group CODEPINK has been collecting money for her, is holding a news conference today at noon at the Queens County Courthouse. You can go to CODEPINK’s website at codepink4peace.org for more information. We’ll have more on Jocelyne Voltaire’s story on Monday.