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Almost One Year Since Opening Big Chair Coffee Shop Benefitting Community, Battling Recession

Almost One Year Since Opening Big Chair Coffee Shop Benefitting Community, Battling Recession

“Two or three years ago, (Anacostia) was not as we see it right now.  There’s a lot of progress around here,” Bantamlak Yimenu said as he peered out onto Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue from a corner table in Southeast D.C.'s Big Chair Coffee Shop. “There’s a lot of big change coming up.”

Almost a year ago now, Yimenu and his sister kicked off that change when they opened Big Chair, the first true sit-down coffee shop East of the Anacostia River.

“There are a number of people who live in this neighborhood who want gourmet coffee, (and a) gourmet coffee shop,” Yimenu said.  “Instead of going across the River to get that kind of place, we’ve brought it here.”

New District measure requires six-months of mediation before foreclosure.

The District Council recently passed a measure that requires that mortgage lenders work with homeowners for six months through mediation before they will be able to foreclose on a home in the District. Mediation allows the borrower and the lender to negotiate with the guidance of a neutral third party possible alternatives to foreclosure.

What this means for struggling homeowners is that they now have an opportunity to work with their lender and possibly save their homes from the auction block. This is especially helpful in the District since there isn't a requirement that courts review foreclosure cases. In the District alone, there are more than 3,000 homes in the foreclosure process.

Fannie and Freddie losses hit $226 billion

The government backed mortgage finance companies have burnt through $226bn in capital since the middle of 2007. The majority of those losses, or about $166bn, came from guaranteeing loans on single family homes, according to the first in what will be a series of quarterly reports from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae (which is headquartered in Washington, DC ) and Freddie Mac (which is headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA).

Ballooning losses at Fannie and Freddie, which have taken $148bn in government aid to stay afloat have become a subject of intense debate in Washington. Most of the decision makers agree that the government needs to continue to provide some kind of guarantee to backstop home loans as well as stem the rising tide of foreclosures, but what form that should take is still up for debate.