By his neighborhood’s standards, Wilson is one of the lucky ones, though. His home is worth more than what he owes his lending company, according to recent estimates on the real estate site Zillow and public records obtained by The Daily Caller.
Others in his neighborhood haven’t fared as well. In Chicago, more than 57 percent of homes are underwater. Just four blocks south of Obama’s neighborhood, that number jumps past 72 percent.
Wilson had never tried to obtain a loan prior to the suit against Citibank, but when he applied for one after the suit he was denied. He thinks the tanking economy plays a large role.
“They’re sitting downtown somewhere investing in the tax sales of the government,” Wilson said of the politicians and banks. “They sit there until they find out what they’re going to do with it.”
From his lawsuit with Citibank, which Wilson scarcely remembers, plaintiffs allegedly received between $770 and $3,250 each. But vast majority of plaintiffs interviewed by TheDC, Wilson included, don’t recall receiving a payout from the suit; many did receive loan approvals.
According to an analysis by TheDC, more than 45 of the plaintiffs in the Obama-led lawsuit, or 25 percent, declared bankruptcy between 1987 and 2012. Sixty-five — or 40 percent — filed for foreclosure.
One home under foreclosure can cost the local government up to $34,000, the Federal Deposit Insurance Company reported. And those homes and neighborhoods often become havens for crime, a trend to which Wilson can attest personally.
After Wilson got sick, he couldn’t find anyone to look over his two businesses, choosing instead to close up shop. Both the laundromat and the hardware store were burglarized; two more break-ins were reported at his home.
“Crime in the area has increased. Some people don’t want to bother with living in the neighborhood,” Wilson said. “Coming through the alley, hustlers come around to see what they can find or sell.”
Wilson believes it’s the government’s responsibility to clean up the mess in Chicago, and he’s preparing himself to lose his property.
“Government needs to help the people, clear everybody of all their debts and start all over again,” he said. “I think that he should. Everybody is riding the people, gas company, taxes on the property …”
Obama’s — and Wilson’s — lawsuit against Citibank lasted until 1998, and many plaintiffs began to take out loans after the settlement. But 2009 was reportedly the hardest-hit year for Chicago, and the majority of foreclosures were concentrated on the west and south sides of the city where Obama’s clients live.
“In the late 1990s, risky and predatory home lending practices gained a hold in the city’s lower-income and minority neighborhoods. Independent mortgage companies entered these credit-starved neighborhoods and issued mortgages with high interest rates, costly fees, and unfavorable terms,” reported National People’s Action, a politically progressive housing advocacy group.
And while Obama’s crusade against Citibank was successful on paper, plaintiffs like Samuel Wilson still find themselves barely holding on.
“Just like he gives money for the banks to stay afloat, the banks ride the backs of the people,” Wilson said.