There was a long line wrapped around the Capital Hilton this morning, mere blocks from the White House and right next door to the Washington Post, which has refused to report the most newsworthy event in the city. Instead headlines focus on Robert Novak's hit-and-run incident in his 2003 black Chevy Corvette convertible. He got off with a $50 fine and remarked how glad he was that his homeless victim hadn't died.
I'm falling into the same trap. What was that line about? Well the most the Post did was confined to one or two columns. I just checked it and failing any story, I googled the event and found Mary Kane's brief account in the Washington Independent, "Restructurings Burn the Midnight Oil."-
Lenders are writing, too, about those lines. They are people fighting foreclosures, being helped, if they are lucky enough to reach the front of the line after hours that rival the those spent by determined voters during presidential elections in Ohio in 2004. NACA, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, is furnishing free counselors by the hundred to scan, on brand-new HP machines, the documents of these victims, email them to lenders, who agreed to work with them, in that interest rates are so far down that mortgages should reflect this reality instead of cannibalizing the very ground our economy stands on, the people who work for a living.
The Capital Hilton hosted the event, courtesy of NACA, and scores of people in NACA insignia attire, including bright yellow T-shirts with large sharks emblazoned on both front and back (signifying the loan sharks on their way to other waters""who knows where? "Sharks, beware!" warns the shirt) sat behind tables, behind scanners, helping people who came from as far as Florida and waited sometimes more than a day for help.
Help they received, one man having lowered his monthly payment, just for example, from more than $2,000 to $1,220. He was ecstatic, encouraging those still waiting, telling his story to them, walking back into hope. The event was named Restoring the Dream of a House. But as the five days of the event progressed, more and more people showed up. As it ends today, rioting is feared from those who have waited long and not been served.
Because the media are ignoring this news, I sit at Dupont Circle wondering what is going on a few miles away and determined to stretch the four corners of the media until I find out.
I was there several times with a journalist friend who came here from New York for all five days. The people waiting wouldn't meet my eyes. What good was I? Mothers sat on the floor with children in their lap; the entire spectrum of American society was represented, from poor blacks to, I am told, upper-class scions who know they can trust the counselors as opposed to others.
I would trust the counselors. They have that twenty-four/seven brand of weariness that encompasses everything an individual might endure. Some of them are obese. Some look like prosperous attorneys. Some attorneys are standing in the lines.
"There but for fortune,"- I think, a mortgage-less renter who just paid off her credit card accounts, wondering how safe my savings are now, wondering how soon I may be in one of those lines. At least I earn enough to live my life and write in my spare time (oxygen).
I read that those people turned away from the Hilton might alter their paths toward churches that have offered space to continue the program. Where should they come, if not Washington? The president of NACA, Bruce Marks, was quite disagreeable as he led a posse of those who couldn't readjust their mortgages into the Senate chambers to speak with the likes of Christopher Dodds, but Bruce so ruffled feathers that the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, refused any visitations.
What might those visits have accomplished under the aegis of more of a diplomat? "They brought attention to the severe plight of a substantial portion of the people,"- said my friend.
From Wall Street to Main Street? I might ask, quoting my friend again and marveling at the strength and impact of NACA. The Independent reporter opined that NACA should be in charge of our economy. It's way past time to lose our tempers, one and all.