On the eve of Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting in San Antonio, TX on Tuesday, home defenders, students, community groups, and activists in ten cities took peaceful action against the bank. Petitions signed by thousands of people were delivered to Wells Fargo branches and offices across the country calling on CEO John Stumpf to change the bank’s predatory practices.
Earlier this month, we put the word out that we were planning to take on Wells Fargo and the response we got was overwhelming. So many people registered for an organizing conference call that we had to schedule a second one just to accommodate everyone.
Well’s Fargo’s well-documented history of abusive and discriminatory lending, servicing, and foreclosure practices have caused millions of families to lose their homes or be underwater on their mortgages. The bank’s actions have devastated communities across the country- impacting everyone from homeowners facing foreclosure, to students struggling to afford school, and immigrants fighting to keep their families intact. Even Wells Fargo employees are stepping forward to talk about how the company’s predatory practices hurt their workers and communities.
On April 29, Wells Fargo will celebrate it’s record as the country’s most profitable bank at their annual shareholders meeting in San Antonio, TX. People around the country are organizing to send a message to the bank that these predatory practices have to stop. Home defenders have launched petitions online, and planned actions at local Wells Fargo branches and offices, and some are even traveling to San Antonio to confront the bank’s executives directly.
On Wednesday February 19, supporters delivered petitions signed by over 2,000 people to Wells Fargo branches around the country, urging the bank not to foreclose on Lavinia Curry, an 86 year old Grandmother in Irvington, NJ.
Despite being the most profitable US bank in 2013, Wells Fargo continues to foreclose on struggling homeowners, often refusing to work with families to keep them in their homes. The latest victim, Lavinia Curry, purchased her Irvington, NJ home in 2003 with the help of her children, fulfilling her lifelong dream of homeownership. In 2010, the family missed ONE mortgage payment, but attempted to make the missed payment the very next month. Wells Fargo refused to accept the payment and began the process of foreclosure instead. A sheriff’s sale of the family’s home is scheduled for next month.
50 community members, holding red roses in solidarity, rallied in support of Rose McGee Tuesday as she faced off against Fannie Mae in settlement court alleging wrongful foreclosure. When Fannie Mae still refused to offer a fair deal, the judge ordered for them to return for further court mediation May 14.
“The outcome of the court process today was very disappointing,” said Rose McGee. “The offer that Fannie has made is unreasonable. If they made a reasonable offer, I would gladly accept it. I think now that I’m being used as a scapegoat because they’re faced with so many cases like mine that they don’t want to set a precedent of losing this one.”
Rose, who has been fighting her foreclosure for over a year, fell victim last May to a process called “dual tracking”: as CitiMortgage told her they were modifying her loan, they sold the home to Fannie Mae at a sheriff sale. In January, Rose met with Fannie Mae executives in D.C. who promised they were working on a loan modification–but she was dual tracked again when they continued pushing forward with the eviction at the same time.
Tuesday’s rally came as part of New Bottom Line’s national Dump DeMarco campaign, calling on the Obama administration to fire Ed DeMarco, the federal administrator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and replace him with a permanent director who will implement national principal reduction–resetting mortgages to fair market value.
Last week, Occupy Our Homes members from Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Minneapolis joined Terry Horn in Dunlap, Tennessee to deliver a petition to Citizen’s Tri-County Bank’s Chairman and CEO, Glenn Barker.
Terry and his sister Sherrie have been fighting to save their 86 year old mother Helen’s home from the bank. The mortgage on the family’s Bridgeport, Alabama home was paid off over 40 years ago, but Citizen’s Tri-County is attempting to place on lein on the home to satisfy a debt they claim Helen owes. A few months ago, Terry reached out to Occupy Our Homes for help. He created a campaign on Start2.occupyourhomes.org that has generated thousands of signatures so far.
Anthony was charged after attempting to help the law firm employee, who fell as dozens of supporters demanded justice for Minneapolis homeowner Monique White. Monique was then facing imminent eviction at the hands of Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giant known for its enormous taxpayer bailout and consistent refusal to negotiate with struggling homeowners. After a national public pressure campaign, Monique ultimately won a negotiation and was able to stay in her home.
After a year-long Occupy Homes campaign for a renegotiated loan, Vietnam veteran John Vinje and his wife Lucinda Adams chose to peacefully leave their home on their October eviction date. US Bank and Freddie Mac sent 24 sheriff’s deputies to make sure they didn’t change their minds. John, Lucinda, and their adult children are now living in unstable, uncertain circumstances.
But this experience has only strengthened their resolve to fight back. As Lucinda says, “This is not over yet.” On December 6, we will reclaim a vacant home and move in a family made homeless by the foreclosure crisis. Join us on Thursday to escalate our fight for housing justice.
American Friends Service Committee/Atlanta reports on an amazing trip by retired police officer and cancer patient Jacqueline Barber to Minneapolis, Minnesota to deliver the signatures of thousands of people who have signed a petition standing with her on Start2.OccupyOurHomes.org. Jacqueline was joined by friends and members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta on the trip and once they arrived in Minneapolis, they were supported by the fine people of Occupy Homes MN.
Here’s more of Jacqueline’s story:
After joining Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and standing up publicly to GMAC and US Bank against her eviction, Ms. Barber was told by representatives of GMAC to make an offer to buy back her home, which she can afford at current market value.
Following their direction, Jacqueline put in an offer and GMAC sent an appraiser to her home. After saying they would report back about the appraisal, they instead backed away from negotiations, built a wall of silence, and have since pushed strongly ahead in the process to get Ms. Barber evicted.
The stress of facing eviction has already brought Jacqueline’s cancer out of remission. Recently, Ms. Barber went to her doctor who told her that she will have to resume aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments if she is unable to relax and stay stress free while undergoing her current treatment.
Jacqueline and OOH ATL joined up with Occupy Homes MN and the Home Defenders League to make this powerful action possible:
Today Jacqueline marched on US Bank and GMAC-RFC with allies from Occupy Homes MN, and the Home Defenders League. The solidarity in the emerging housing justice movement was amazing and inspiring !The goal was to keep Jacqueline in her home, in good health, and to shine a light on the unjust illegal fraud at the hands of the financial institutions that continue to hold our communities and our economy hostage.
We were able to force meetings with both US Bank and GMAC and deliver over 20,000 signatures on petition urging US Bank and GMAC to do the right thing and make a deal that would keep Jacqueline and her family in the home. We also delivered pay stubs and bank account statements that prove Jacqueline could afford the home.
Here’s a press statement from Occupy Fights Foreclosure in advance of actions today in support of Fort Lucero and against Deutsche Bank:
Home owner protection organizations and community members will be meeting at the Lucero residence at 4748 Hammel St. in East Los Angeles at 9:30am and leaving at 10am for a series of direct actions targeting Deutsche Bank. These direct actions will expose the fraudulent business practices of this foreign bank against the citizens of Los Angeles, serve as a show of solidarity between homeowners and activists internationally. We call on law enforcement and city officials to represent their constituents, not the interests of foreign bankers.
#FortLucero is a home defense that was created to stop Deutsche Bank from fraudulently foreclosing on the Lucero’s home. The Luceros hold a federal court-ordered stay through the 30th of November. Deutsche Bank promised to investigate the case, however, during negotiations their attorneys issued a second eviction. At 6am on Halloween morning, five squad cars of the Norwalk Sheriffs department arrived at #FortLucero issuing the Luceros and their children a five day notice to vacate. This bank action is a direct response to Deutsche Bank’s continued lack of ability to negotiate in good faith and respect both domestic laws and court orders.
According to U.S. Attorney Bhara: “Deutsche Bank ignored every type of red flag and breached every duty of due diligence before underwriting thousands of federally insured mortgages,” but after paying a 202 million dollars settlement to the federal government, state authorities fail to prevent Deutsche Bank from illegally possess American homes.