Toledoan Kimberly Bowers talks to the Rev. Jesse Jackson outside her home, which she could lose to foreclosure. A spokesman for her lender said the process has been placed on hold.
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed in the home of a woman facing foreclosure, had breakfast with about 100 religious and government leaders, and preached about doing homework and resisting drugs to an assembly at Woodward High School during a five-hour sweep through Toledo yesterday.
Mr. Jackson, a Baptist minister, touched on a range of subjects during his visit that began with a meeting in Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church.
He went to the home of Kimberly Bowers, 2716 Latonia Blvd., in West Toledo, to help publicize a wave of foreclosures and promised to help her avoid losing the home she has owned for 10 years.
Ms. Bowers said her troubles started with a medical issue in October, 2008, and grew when she lost her sales job in January.
"This is my first and only home. I have to come to terms with the fact that I might lose it," Ms. Bowers said, adding that she was both honored and embarrassed to be picked as Mr. Jackson's example of mortgage failure.
Mr. Jackson, 68, sat with her in her living room and talked about the unfairness of banks that got bailouts but didn't extend the same consideration to their customers. Holding Ms. Bowers' hand, he led the room in prayer.
"We want to meet with her bankers and renegotiate the terms so she can stay in the home," he said.
A spokesman for Ms. Bowers' lender, HSBC Finance based in the Chicago area, would not discuss Ms. Bowers' situation in detail, but said that the foreclosure process was placed on hold yesterday when they learned of "an additional hardship" in her case. The spokesman declined to comment on whether Mr. Jackson's intervention was a factor.
The spokesman said that HSBC has modified approximately 95,000 customer accounts with an aggregate balance of approximately $13.3 billion in the first nine months of this year.
HSBC did not receive bailout funds and is foreign-owned, so it would not have qualified in any case, spokesman Kate Durham said.
Mr. Jackson said responsibility for the high rate of foreclosures is not just that of consumers who borrowed more than they could afford, but of "banksters" that he said lied to consumers with "teaser" rates.
"The robbed cannot help being robbed," he said.
As of last Friday, there were 3,804 foreclosure filings in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, according to Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter. That compares with 3,615 as of the same date in 2008.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said that nationally, 1.42 percent of loans entered foreclosure in the third quarter, up from 1.36 percent in the second quarter and 1.07 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
Mr. Jackson said he planned to return to Toledo and said that he wanted local leaders and pastors to organize a march to dramatize the need for another federal stimulus package and for a reindustrialization policy to guarantee America an even playing field with the rest of the world when it comes to manufacturing jobs.
"We're going to come back to Toledo for mass action," Mr. Jackson said. "We must have concerted action across the country."
He said the economy is in a depression.
"We cannot stop the hemorrhaging until we have a reindustrialization policy and put Americans back to work," Mr. Jackson said. "We must restructure loans and stop repossessing homes."
His visit was sparked by an invitation from U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who appeared on his radio show a week ago.
She said Mr. Jackson's runs to gain the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 paved the way for Barack Obama to become the first African-American President.
Mr. Jackson said it's too early to grade President Obama's performance, but said the stimulus efforts so far are not sufficient.
"He's doing well. He has just almost a year in this. If there was a consensus that we had to stop the collapse of Wall Street, the expectation was that they would bail out the rest of the economy," Mr. Jackson said. But that hasn't happened, he added.
"They won't lend. When they got the money, it should have been linked to reinvestment. It was not. There was no linkage. And now they have abused that investment and taken care of themselves at the expense of the American public," he said.
At Woodward, Mr. Jackson urged students to make good choices, avoid drugs, stay in school, and study.
"Strong minds break strong chains," he said. He also said, "If you cannot read, you cannot reason."
As at the breakfast, he had the students repeat his words, which they did enthusiastically.
He had the students, most of the junior and senior classes, on their feet and repeating after him, "I am somebody. I am God's child. Keep hope alive."
He quizzed Carlos Rice, 18, captain of the Woodward football team, about how many hours a week the team practiced and whether they were allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, and talk to their girlfriends while at practice. He then asked whether he followed the same discipline when doing his homework, which Mr. Rice admitted he did not.
Mr. Jackson invited students to step forward if they were willing to commit to two hours of homework five days a week. Approximately 100 did so, including Mr. Rice, who said later, "I'm going to try."
Junior Keeana King, 17, said she already puts in 10 hours of home study a week, but took the pledge because, "I want to study harder." She said she was surprised at the number who stood.
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