Edwards and America's Poortest City
Awesome report from BSB's roving correspondent in Cleveland. Way to go Mark!!!! -Jerid
Sen. John Edwards brought his RFK-style Poverty Tour to America's poorest city today. Edwards spoke with residents of Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood today about sub prime mortgage lenders and home foreclosures that are ravaging Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and many other areas of the U.S.
Edwards was an hour late to todays event, leaving a few dozen members of the press and local residents to wait to mill around for a while. During this time, a kid on a bike rolled up next to me on the sidewalk and asked "where's John?" This kid couldn't of been more than 9 years old. I told him Edwards was running late, and asked him if he was a fan. "That's the reason I came over here," he said. "I can't wait 'till he's president. If I could vote, I would vote for him." This astute young man also observed that Mayor Jackson was nowhere to be seen. (Jackson never did appear).
About 12:30, Edwards made his way down the street surrounded by press. His first stop was the corner of E. 114th and Benham, where he met with a 32 year resident of the neighborhood who has worked for the local school system for 25 years and is on the verge of losing his home over a mere $3,200 shortage.
"This is a couple that doesn't know anything but work, and they're about to lose what they've spent their lives trying to accumulate over $3,200," Edwards said.
Edwards talked about capping the interest rates that so-called pay day lenders charge their
victims customers at 32% (he said most of these rates are in the triple digits now).
"[I was just told that] there are 38 houses on a one block radius that are foreclosing. This is wrong. This is not complicated, it's wrong, and these people are being taken advantage of, " Edwards told the crowd. "What's happened is the very thing that they've worked for -- their homes -- and those children we just passed back there are going to be kicked out of their homes, all because these predators have come into this neighborhood and taken advantage of them."
As president, Edwards plans to create a national predatory lending law in order to regulate the practices of lenders. He also advocates what he called a national home rescue fund to "make sure that when people who are responsible and working hard get in trouble, they can in fact save their homes."
Edwards then spoke with another resident a block away who is in a similar situation and is in fear of losing her home.
Sen. Edwards is to continue his tour later today in Youngstown and Pittsburgh PA, and will end the tour in Kentucky tomorrow.
"I am absolutely convinced that America wants to do something about these predators. I think America wants to do something to give opportunity to people to take care of themselves," Edwards said. "They just haven't been asked to do anything, and we're gonna ask them."