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Evicted Family Moves into Vacant Home for the Holidays

Becky Dernbach on December 23, 2012

This Christmas, there will be one less vacant home and one less family on the streets. In a season when home and family take priority over greed for Scrooge, the Grinch, and even major banks, Occupy Homes MN has moved a homeless family, evicted after US Bank refused to negotiate their mortgage, into a vacant home for the holidays.

They are asking Minneapolis-based US Bank, who also refused to modify the mortgage for the vacant home, to turn over the home to community control through a nonprofit to provide housing for families in need.

“Whatever happens, we’re just grateful not to be living out of our car and to have somewhere warm to spend our holidays with our 12-year-old son and two dogs,” said Carrie Martinez, whose family was evicted by 24 sheriffs in October after a 9-month campaign by her in-laws, veteran John Vinje and his wife Lucinda Adams, asking US Bank to negotiate a reasonable solution to keep them in their home.

“We are asking US Bank to turn this home over so it can benefit the community instead of sitting vacant, attracting crime, and lowering the property values for the neighborhood,” added Martinez.

35 community supporters helped them set up and decorate their Christmas tree and immediately began making repairs to the house, including fixing the stove, where the family hopes to cook Christmas dinner.

The home will reach the end of the redemption period on January 3rd, after which time US Bank could move to evict the family.

Homelessness in Hennepin County is at a six-year-high, a near-crisis situation, and one in four people experiencing homelessness is a veteran. Nationwide, there are 3.5 million homeless people--and nearly 19 million vacant homes.

"Though I wasn't able to keep my home, I'm happy that it can be used to provide shelter for this family, and I'm hopeful US Bank will work with the community instead of evicting yet another family," said Mysnikol Miller, the former resident of the home. "I am proud to stand with Carrie, Xavier, and families around the country who are struggling to find safe and equitable housing."

Turn this vacant home over to the community!