One of the memes the 1% crowd has been pushing, both locally and nationally, has been The Cost To The Taxpayer of the protests — usually in the form of utterly unnecessary (and local-economy-hurting) barricades, police presence, and surveillance of groups of largely self-disciplined and peaceful protesters — costs that one almost never sees tallied in discussions of, say, policing of sporting events such as the Minnesota Lynx’ win of the WNBA championship.
The dirty little secret here is that the price of foreclosures and bank bailouts — where your tax dollars are given to the banks so they can use that money to more efficiently kick you out of your own home — is what’s really costing the taxpayer. See, for example, Minnesotans for Fair Economy’s report on Hennepin County in Minnesota, which encompasses the city of Minneapolis and several other municipalities:
- Experts estimate that a typical foreclosure can cost a local government more than $19,000 [i]. With 9,393 foreclosures[ii] in Hennepin County, the cost of current foreclosures to taxpayers in Hennepin County is $180.6 million.[iii]
The real estate market collapse widely attributed to the big banks reckless behavior has cost the county much more in lost property taxes.
- Homes in Hennepin County are worth about $75,200 less than they were at the beginning of the housing crisis [iv], for lost an estimated total of $22.7 billion in lost value[v], which could drain $268 million in annual tax revenue from the county and its municipalities.[vi]
“Our First Amendment rights to protest are priceless; but the foreclosure crisis brought on by predatory lending and Wall Street recklessness has drained homeowners of billions in home value and thus cost Hennepin County millions,” said Donna Cassutt,Minnesotans for a Fair Economy spokesperson said.
“Sheriff Stanek and Chief Dolan shouldn’t blame the messenger when people stand up to demand reform of reckless bank behavior that has cost our communities a fortune and devastated whole neighborhoods,” added Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26 and a steering committee member of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.
Steve Fletcher, the Executive Director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change said, “NOC just released a study showing that the foreclosure crisis has cost the Minneapolis Public Schools $150 million. The banks and government have done far too little to help underwater and struggling homeowners or hold banks accountable. That’s the problem.”
“All across this county we have roads and bridges and schools that need repair and re-building. We should be investing in putting people to work so they can stay in their houses instead of letting sheriff’s deputies be used to put families out of their homes,” said Carol Nieters Executive Director of SEIU Local 284.
Watch the video above for some strong testimony from victims of foreclosure. Bet it sounds a lot like what you’re seeing in your home towns.