Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday took part in a Washington, D.C. rally to urge the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to quit selling home loans to hedge funds and private financial firms.
Warren joined Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and a group of community activists at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill to protest predatory lending schemes that allow financiers to foreclose on struggling borrowers without first modifying loan terms. Warren blasted HUD and the FHFA for their role in the crisis and called on the government to make it easier for nonprofit housing groups to buy distressed mortgages at auction.
"HUD and FHFA have been lining up with the Wall Street speculators," Warren said in a speech before the march. "This should surprise absolutely nobody.... Wall Street is interested in profits, not in working out a way for people to stay in their homes."
"These Wall Street investors made money by crashing the economy, got bailed out and now they’re back to feed at the trough again, scooping up these loans at rock-bottom prices so that they profit off them a second time—and it is up to us to stop that!" Warren said to a cheering crowd.
"We need to get something straight: These federal agencies don't work for Wall Street. They work for the American people," she continued. "HUD and FHFA could make these changes right now if they just had the courage to stand up for families instead of bowing to Wall Street."
Following Warren's speech, the activists—many dressed in orange T-shirts that read, "Communities for Change"—marched to protest outside FHFA headquarters, where they reportedly met with agency chief Mel Watt and HUD officials.
Speaking to Warren's credibility on Capitol Hill, Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist who attended the rally, writes:
Given Warren’s record, Watt has reason for concern. After my Post colleagues Tom Hamburger, James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck reported Tuesday on letters Warren sent to Brookings [Institution] protesting research by Robert Litan that was both corporate-backed and corporate-friendly, Brookings forced Litan to resign.
According to Edward Golding, HUD's principal deputy assistant secretary, the meeting between activists and HUD officials included discussions over how federal agencies could "make better use of one of its tools, the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP), to further the Department’s goal of stabilizing communities and assisting them as they, and their public-minded partners, work to address severely distressed mortgages that are on the verge of foreclosure."