Atlanta: Jacqueline Barber APD veteran and cancer patient faces eviction hearing

Today US Bank and GMAC lawyers fought to lift the stay on Jacqueline Barber’s home. Although we packed the courtroom with supporters, they were successful, which brings them one step closer to being able to evict Jacqueline and her four young grandchildren. The case failed because Jacqueline’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which was grounds for the stay) was filed after the home was sold on the court house steps.

It is clear that US Bank and GMAC intent to begin the eviction process immediately.

Jacqueline has made it clear that she will fight no matter what stating that, “If they come to put me out, I hope Occupy Our Homes will be carried out with me because they’re going to have to have to physically remove me from the property. I refuse to roll over and play dead.”

Occupy Our Homes ATL plans to dual track the bank the same way they dual tracked Jacqueline and millions of other Americans. Jacqueline was dual tracked when America’s Servicing Company claimed they were working on her modification while simultaneously foreclosing on her. Occupy Our Homes ATL will dual track US Bank and GMAC by helping Jacqueline pursue legal action in state court and taking aggressive direct action to keep Jacqueline and her family in their home.

Tomorrow morning at 11am we will be launching a full scale 24/7 occupation of Jacqueline’s home. We will be joined by many of Jacqueline’s former co-workers at the APD and other supporters, many of whom have committed to refuse to leave when the marshals come to evict. We invite the press for interviews at 11am.

(More details below the fold)

Keep 20 Year Atlanta Police Veteran and Cancer Patient In Her Home

Jacqueline Barber’s story struck a chord with the American people as it became one of the most reposted stories in the country.

This morning Occupy Homes Minnesota delivered a letter to U.S. Bank’s headquarters in Minneapolis. U.S. Bank downplayed their role in Jacqueline’s crisis and passed the blame on to GMAC. Like many loans originated in the height of the housing bubble, Jacqueline’s mortgage was bundled with other mortgages and sold to investors. U.S. Bank claims responsibility solely for dealing with investors in the trust (RASC 2006-emx2). According to U.S. Bank, GMAC is responsible for dealing with the other side of the trust, the homes and homeowners whose monthly payments are treated as poker chips to be amassed and turned over to investors.

While U.S. Bank may state that GMAC is the servicer of the trust, it is undeniable that U.S. Bank bought the home on the courthouse steps. It is also impossible to deny that attorneys hired by and representing U.S. Bank will be present in a Newnan courtroom on Thursday aggressively seeking to evict a 20 year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department whose cancer has just come out of remission.

Today Occupy Our Homes ATL will launch a national call in day to U.S. Bank and GMAC with two simple requests, stop attempts to evict, and make a deal that keeps the family in the home.

Please call CEO Richard Davis of U.S. Bank at 612-303-0840 and Elizabeth Desilva 214-874-6821 at GMAC and urge themto call off the eviction and make a deal to keep the family in their home!

(More information below the fold)

US Bank Set to Evict Atlanta Police Department Veteran and Cancer Patient

Active and retired APD officers will join Jacqueline Barber, her four Grandchildren, and Occupy Our Homes ATL to send the message to US Bank that she will not be evicted.

Jacqueline Barber is a retired Atlanta Police Department detective who was injured on the job and forced into early retirement. After purchasing a home big enough for her, her daughter, and four children tragedy struck.

Jacqueline was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. While undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her son helped start the long process of applying for a loan modification with Wells Fargo. After almost a year of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, Jacqueline’s disease went into remission.

Like millions of American’s Jacqueline had a bad loan. Her payments shot up by $1,500 a month as her property value plummeted.

Over the next two years Jacqueline sent in document after document to the bank, attended countless seminars with housing counseling agencies, and tried everything she could to obtain a loan modification, all while still in a wheelchair from the pain she was suffering. Her family even fell victim to so called “foreclosure rescue” groups, paying them over $3000 for modification assistance. Finally in early 2012, Jacqueline received a letter from the executive VP of Wells Fargo assuring her that they were working on her case. I felt a sense of hope at the prospect of finally getting some relief.

Much to her surprise, Jacqueline received a letter a few weeks later from US Bank, claiming they had purchased her home at auction, and demanding that she vacate the property. Despite their assurances that they were working on her case, it seems Wells Fargo had moved forward with the foreclosure.

US Bank is now demanding that the family vacate the property immediately, even refusing to sell it back to Jacqueline’s friends and family members who were more than willing to purchase the home back from them. Desperate to put off the eviction and find a way to stay in her home, Jaqueline filed for bankruptcy in August which granted her a temporary stay from the eviction. The stress has caused Jacqueline’s cancer to come out of remission, and she now has to resume aggressive treatment to fight it. Now US Bank is taking Jacqueline to court to demand the judge lift the stay, allow them to evict the family, and force Jacqueline to pay their legal fees on top of it.

Take action below the fold.

DC: Homeowners, Renters, and Homeless Unite Against Fannie/Freddie In Day of Action

Yesterday homeowners and housing justice activists from around the country to target Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHFA chief Ed DeMarco around a set of demands that would keep people in their homes and return power to local communities. Groups from around the country, including numerous local Occupy Our Homes groups, convened in Washington, DC to take back the peoples’ bank. 

The American Friends Service Committee/Atlanta blog has a great write-up on the day and the role Occupy Our Homes Atlanta activists played as part of it. 

After pulling off actions at every regional Fannie/Freddie office in early September, several cities decided to send delegations to Washington DC to confront Freddie and Fannie at their national offices.

With little time to organize, we were able to pull eleven folks from Atlanta to make the trip.

Micheline Meusa, Renika Wheeler and their two children were among our Atlanta delegation. Both have lost jobs in the last six months and as a result of having a very limited safety net they ended up on the street. Renika and Micheline have bounced from shelter to shelter and have been unable to obtain work, despite looking for work almost every day.

Renika and Micheline represent a segment of the population that has, up to this point, often been left out of the housing crisis conversation.

One thing that was exciting about today’s action was having the story’s of homeowners, renters, and homeless elevated to the some importance.

The sad fact is that Atlanta has six empty homes for every homeless person, and Atlanta is full of homeless people now more then ever.

After demonstrating outside Fannie Mae this morning, five people impacted by Fannie’s practices decided to commit an act of civil disobedience that landed them in jail, Renika was one of them. She’s out now!

After leaving Fannie we made a quick trip to Freddie Macs headquarters, then we decided to do something special.

All of us went to Edward Demarco’s to not only give him a piece of our mind and deliver a pink slip, we also had a pizza party on his lawn.

Read more about the fight against Fannie and Freddie below the fold.

Chicago: Help Stop Maria’s Eviction!

Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction in Chicago have a call to action to help Maria Dolores:

Rogers Park resident Maria Dolores could be evicted from her home in the coming weeks, unless Fannie Mae gives her back her house. We can make it happen… if we all call Fannie Mae this week!

Contact Kristy Williams Fercho at 312-386-6230 (office), 202-441-4483 (cell), or . Also call the Fannie Mae front desk, at 312-368-6200.

Tell her: “My name is __________ I am calling on behalf of Maria Dolores, who lives at 7250 N Claremont. I am calling to ask you to stop all eviction proceedings on her and all families, and to initiate negotiations directly with her. I vow to support her home occupation and continue protesting, until Fannie Mae gives her back her home.”

Video: Fannie and Freddie 99: National Week of Action (Chicago)

Monday, September 10th, 2012 touched off a national week of action targeting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Led by the Fannie and Freddie 99, groups of fearless families from across the country marched through Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York to defend their homes.

In Chicago, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Centro Autónomo of Albany Park (Chicago), Occupy Our Homes Minnesota and Moratorium Now! (Detroit) participated.

Fannie and Freddie own 59% of all mortgages in the US. American taxpayers bailed out Fannie and Freddie in 2008, and now we own 79% of these financial institutions. However, these behemoths refuse to take positive steps to end the housing crisis. Ed DeMarco, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which oversees Freddie and Fannie) would rather steamroll through the eviction and foreclosure process and sell vacant homes to the same investors that caused the crisis than take measures to keep families in their homes. The Fannie and Freddie 99 demand that Obama fire DeMarco and replace him with someone who will stop all evictions of Fannie and Freddie properties, carry out principle reduction on mortgages, and stop selling vacant homes to investors.

200 People March on Fannie Mae’s Southeastern Hub Demanding An End To Abusive Housing Practices

Yesterday Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and people from all over the Southeast marched on Fannie Mae’s regional headquarters in the heart of Atlanta’s most affluent real estate; Buckhead.

Yesterday’s Southeastern action launched a national campaign aimed at highlighting and addressing the inhumane practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. People from Athens, Chattanooga, Miami, Orlando and Nashville joined Occupy Our Homes ATL organizers in holding Fannie and Freddie accountable for their abuse of our system and demand change.

Many underwater homeowners who Freddie and Fannie refuse to work with were present and demanded a meeting with Catherine Lasher of Fannie Mae. Robert Anderson, whose home is underwater, said he has tried to modify with Freddie Mac but with no luck.”I want the investors to step down and talk to us,” Anderson. “I’ve been going through anxiety.”

Currently Georgia is near the top of the list of most devastated states in this foreclosure crisis and as a region, the Southeast is the hardest hit per capita. Homeowners, renters and the homeless have been devastated by unjust practices that include refusal to reduce principal, bulk sale of homes to investors at 10-20% of market value, and holding properties hostage in communities hit hardest by the crisis. In Atlanta there are six vacant homes for each homeless person. This is not acceptable. Speaking on behalf of thousands in Atlanta’s growing homeless population was Michelene Meusa, mother of two who became homeless after going from under employed to unemployed. While addressing the crowd Michelene stated,“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stop holding these unoccupied, vacant, boarded up properties hostage! The hostage situation is over! People always talk about “Oh, well you know, homeless people are bums.” The biggest bums are right up there (Fannie and Freddie)”.

(More below the fold)

The People Vs. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

Today kicks off two days of protests—today in Atlanta and Chicago, and in Los Angeles and New York City on Wednesday—to demand an end to the abusive practices of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Today, community organizations, Occupy Homes groups, and foreclosure fighters are converging from around the southeast at Fannie Mae headquarters in Atlanta.

More information on the Atlanta action on the Occupy Our Homes Atlanta website here, and on facebook here.

In Chicago, foreclosure fighters and their allies will be raising a ruckus outside of both the Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac regional headquarters. Occupy Homes MN kicked off a caravan to Chicago from the Cruz family home—still sealed and patrolled by security working for PNC bank with support from Freddie Mac. They are re-igniting their campaign in support of the Cruz family today.

More information on Chicago’s day of action on the website of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, and on Occupy Homes MN’s facebook here.

Here’s a quick excerpt from the event listing from Occupy Our Homes Atlanta:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac control over 60% of the mortgages in the US. After gambling with people’s money, and buying up subprime mortgages during the housing bubble, they were placed under conservatorship of the US government in 2008, receiving billions of taxpayers dollars. Now, 4 years later, they continue to put people out of their homes, and are the biggest obstacle to fixing the housing crisis. It’s time to put a stop to this, and to demand the wealth that was stolen from our communities be restored.

Our demands include: 

-Principal Reduction for all underwater homeowners to real market value

-and end to Fannie and Freddie Evictions, and the right to rent after foreclosure

-the sale of foreclosed properties to occupants and non-profits at the same discounted rate they are offering to shady investors
-that they turn over vacant and abandoned properties to community controlled entities to provide long term affordable housing

The Right to the City Alliance, a key force behind this week’s actions, has been collecting stories from families who are fighting foreclosure by Fannie & freddie, demanding principle reduction, and organizing for housing as a human right. Check out the tumblr site RTTC has published, We Are The Fannie Freddie 99, with many compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories, including photos and video testimonials.

To follow this week’s actions, watch the @OccupyOurHomes twitter feed, and follow the hashtag #FFFighters (as in Fannie Freddie Fighters!). 

Beloved DC Pastor Fights Eviction; Occupy Our Homes DC Pressing Bank of America for Justice

UPDATE Sept. 10th: Supporters of Rev. Vanzant’s fight to keep his home got Bank of America’s attention. Unfortunately, the bank still doesn’t get it. According to Occupy Our Homes DC:

While Rev. Michael Vanzant was in the hospital recovering from a minor stroke brought on by Bank of America’s plans to evict him, we foreclosed on BofA’s DC Home Loan office while also asking supporters to shut down their phone lines.  We were successful on both fronts.  That same day, BofA called Rev. Vanzant in the hospital to set up a call to discuss solutions. Once that discussion began, though, it became clear that they hadn’t quite heard us.  Rev Vanzant was offered more money to move out of his home in a gentrifying area of NE DC.  He is not interested, though we are all pleased that we’ve made it onto their radar.

We are asking you to take a moment to call the DC Home Loan office and let them know that this isn’t about money – this is about keeping communities intact.  Please call and demand they work with Rev. Vanzant on a modification – he is not leaving.

Bank of America Home Loan office – DC – 202-797-4940 

* * *

An admired DC pastor is fighting to keep his Northeast Washington DC home, with the support of Occupy Our Homes DC. Reverend Robert Michael Vanzant serves as the outreach pastor for DC’s Faith Temple, and is a staunch supporter of LGBT rights. When Rev. Vanzant’s income was cut after going on disability two years ago, he appealed to Bank of America for a modification of the mortgage on his home of 24 years. But despite repeated requests, B of A hasn’t budged.

Occupy Our Homes DC is supporting Rev. Vanzant and recently helped him create a petition to Bank of America. In the petition, he writes:

“I’ve spent my life serving God and my community. When I became disabled and my income dropped, I reached out and asked for a modification so that I could continue to pay my mortgage. You denied my request and set me up for foreclosure and eviction.

As a young man, my church threw me out for being gay. I renewed my faith in God and started a church for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

With that same resolve, I will fight for my home and the homes of my brothers and sisters being thrown out on the streets by bankers like you.

I ask that you modify my mortgage so that I am able to live with dignity as I grow old and continue serving God and my community.”

According to Occupy Our Homes DC, the disabled and aging pastor suffered a minor stroke due to the stress he’s been experienceing at the prospect of losing his home of more than two decades. Friends and community of Rev. Vanzant marched today to a DC Bank of America loan office, demanding B of A find a solution. 

Sign the petition to demand Bank of America do the right thing, and keep Rev. Vanzant in his home.

More on today’s rally and Rev. Vanzant’s condition after the fold.