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.
Last week, people in thirteen cities across the country took part in a day of action against Chase Bank in solidarity with Minneapolis homeowner Sergio Ceballos, who was illegally dual tracked by Chase and served with an eviction notice on Monday. From Chase Headquarters in New York, to smaller operations in Seattle and San Francisco, people nationwide delivered Sergio’s petition to their local Chase branches on Sergio’s behalf. While the sheriffs can come at any moment to evict Sergio and his family, people all across the country are standing up for Sergio and telling Chase that the fight for the Ceballos home has only just begun.
Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail?
Millions of underwater homeowners have paid the price for Wall Street’s crimes. From mortgage fraud to predatory lending, it’s time to put bankers in jail.
Join Occupy Homes, dozens of underwater homeowners, and hundreds of allies from across the country as we take action and risk arrest at the Department of Justice.
Bring Justice to Justice Rally: May 20th @ 1pm Gather: Freedom Plaza, 14th Street and Pennsylvania Ave NW – March to Department of Justice @ 1:30pm
As a new housing bubble fueled by Wall Street speculation is forming, it’s clear that the financial industry didn’t learn their lesson from the last mess. It’s more important than ever for us to take action to demand meaningful relief for homeowners and prosecutions for the criminals at the top.
Occupy Our Homes, the Home Defenders League, and others are joining fed-up homeowners who are ready to demand action!
Join us the week of May 20th! Wall Street Accountability Week of Action May 18 – 23
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.
Go below the fold for photos and videos from these updates.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta has posted a video and update of their action today:
On December 6th members of Occupy Our Homes ATL took from a bank something they’ve been stealing from people for decades: a home. In Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood, which stands at least 50% vacant, a displaced family moved themselves into a bank-owned home. The desired outcome is that M&T Bank give the home to Higher Ground Empowerment Center’s non-profit, and that the home then be taken off the market and be put into community control. (Higher Ground Empowerment Center is a church that activists saved from foreclosure and displacement in January of 2012)
Here’s a more detailed update from California about the successful eviction defense this morning of the Ponce family home by Occupy Sacramento, Occupy Woodland, Occupy Stockton, and Occupy Davis:
Occupy Sacramento, Occupy Woodland, Occupy Stockton, Occupy Davis passed the first hurdle (day 1) of defending the Ponce family from their D6 scheduled eviction. The sheriff did not show up! We’re not out of the woods yet, they still have 2 days to attempt to lock out the Ponces.
The Ponces qualified for a HAMP modification in 2011; they made all their payments during the temp mod, and were approved for a permanent mod. Wells Fargo made a mistake during approval of the permanent mod paperwork–and instead of fixing the mistake, they insisted that the Ponces reapply! They were assured that they were in no danger of losing their home. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo was at the same time foreclosing on them (classic dual tracking). Ultimately, their house was sold to an investment firm before the second HAMP could be finalized.
We believe that Wells Fargo should honor its agreement to modify their loan–especially since recent changes to Keep Your Home California have made it easier for the Ponces to get a prinicipal reduction and affordable payments.
On a day where the Michigan state legislature waged a major assault on the 99% and workers’ rights, we have some good news from Detroit, where a coalition of housing groups including Moratorium NOW! and Detroit Eviction Defense won a victory for the Cullors family.
After blocking the eviction, filling the dumpster with leaf bags, marching on the bank, and packing the courtroom, we have persuaded Fannie Mae to withdraw its eviction order against the Cullors family and sell the mortgage back to Bank of America. BOA will modify the mortgage to keep the Cullors in their home. We can’t know at this point what the modification will amount to, and we’ll pressure the bank to reduce principal. But even with these pending issues, it’s great news.
Occupy Homes MN took a home in South Minneapolis! They have a long post up explaining the day’s actions, but here’s an excerpt of how the community gave the home to retired veteran John Vinje, who was made homeless by foreclosure:
200 community members successfully took over a vacant home in south Minneapolis Thursday night for a veteran made homeless by foreclosure, demanding that the house be turned over to community control through a nonprofit, as the Occupy Homes movement marked its first birthday. Internationally renowned hip-hop artists Brother Ali and Chuck D of Public Enemy led the anniversary celebration.
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. “Why not put homeless people, or people who have gone through foreclosure like us, into these vacant homes?” asked John Vinje. “At least they’ve got somewhere safe and warm to live.”
Before he performed inside Bobby’s house, Brother Ali, who made headlines in June for his arrest defending the Cruz house, spoke movingly about the time he and his son spent homeless. “Anyone who’s lived in a house that the police have smashed through, where someone comes into your house with a gun, you know that traumatizes you for life. I still have to sleep away from the door when I stay in a hotel.”
The community then marched to a nearby home made vacant by the foreclosure crisis, where John Vinje told the story of how US Bank and Freddie Mac foreclosed on and then evicted him rather than modify his loan–in spite of theirprograms to help veterans. “Because of US Bank and Freddie Mac, my family is now split up in three different parts of the metro area,” he said. “It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t your fault. It was their fault. This is not the country that I fought for.”
50 people were still in the house as of 9 pm. “Whose house?” they chanted. “Our house!”
From Philadelphia, where the community groups PhARE and PUP took on Wells Fargo and got a meeting for a homeowner in crisis:
At noon PhARE was joined with PUP and a local homeowner to demand answers for Wells Fargo’s destructive banking and mortgage servicing policies.
Meet John: a small construction business owner, father and homeowner struggling with a Wells Fargo mortgage over the last three years. Today John got a chance to meet face to face with a Wells Fargo rep and demand real answers.
The power of numbers got John an appointment and contact information for a mortgage servicing agent at Wells Fargo. But that’s not enough. As the governator said best, we’ll be back. If 5 people can get a meeting, imagine what 20 will yield.
Possibly my favorite sign of the day, seen in Los Angeles at a protest with Occupy Fights Foreclosures and ACCE: “The time has come. The banks will fall. Stay tuned.”
Here’s a live stream recorded of the action at the Castle Stawaiski Law firm in Denver by Occupy Denver and the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition.
Housing activists and MORE members in St. Louis protested at Wells Fargo. Here’s an update from the action:
“We got into a Wells Fargo lobby in St. Louis… the exact location is actually Missouri’s financial capital. We executed a “people’s foreclosure” and then started auctioning off their stuff to the highest bidder.”
Over 60 activists turned out in San Francisco to protest at Wells Fargo, occupying a branch in the Bayview district with ACCE and the Home Defenders League.
In Chicago, activists are inside with Pat Hill with a big banner for her court date to keep her home.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta has moved a homeless family into a vacant, bank-owned home. There’s one less homeless family on the streets and one less vacant home. The community is helping plant a new garden in front of the house.
Here’s a recorded live stream from Occupy Sacramento’s action this morning at the Ponce residence, in Woodland, CA. Here’s some background info:
Calling Wells Fargo Bank a “Grinch” trying to steal Christmas from the Ponce family (couple and 4 children), Occupy anti-foreclosure activists from Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, Stockton and Marin began the defense of the home of Alma and Heriberto Ponce, THURSDAY, 6 a.m. at 1543 Paradise Valley Drive in Woodland. Yolo County Deputies are expected to enforce the eviction.
Last May, Occupy foreclosure action teams successfully defended the Ponce Family home after the bank foreclosed, even though the had been approved for a loan modification. Wells Fargo backed off from the eviction because of the publicity.
Wells Fargo made a mistake on the final modification paperwork for the Ponces and before it could be corrected, the house was sold in foreclosure, even though the bank assured the family everything was all right because they had successfully completed the trial modification period and received the final HAMP modification. This is an example of “dual tracking”, which will be illegal in California on January 1, 2013, when the Homeowner Bill of Rights takes effect.
Occupy Sacramento members have contacted Wells Fargo numerous times, suggesting a win/win/win solution which would benefit the bank and the investor who bought the house, as well as keeping the Ponces in their home. Wells Fargo refused; consequently the Ponces face eviction.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta flash action today at Bank of America in support of Joself Freeman’s fight for his home. Sign and share Joself’s petition here!
One year after the Pittman family started occupying their home with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, they can claim victory in their home!
Happy birthday, Occupy Our Homes! Today communities around the country are turning the spotlight on the crisis that continues to hold our neighborhoods and our economy hostage as part of the Occupy Our Homes movement’s national day of action to Reclaim Our Homes and Reclaim Our Future.
Actions are taking place in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Richmond CA, Lake Worth FL, Greensboro NC, Mendham NJ, and other cities.
We will update this post throughout the day with details from actions taking place around the country.
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.
On Thursday December 6th 2012, communities around the country are turning the spotlight on the crisis that continues to hold our neighborhoods and our economy hostage as part of the Occupy Our Homes movement’s national day of action to Reclaim Our Homes and Reclaim Our Future.
Tomorrow, Occupy activists and housing justice allies are taking action to mark the first anniversary of this movement to defend our homes, hold Wall Street accountable, and affirm the human right to housing.
Actions will be taking place in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Richmond CA, Lake Worth FL, Greensboro NC, Mendham NJ, and other cities, to be announced.
“Occupy Our Homes began with the simple idea of bringing the bold energy of the Occupy movement into communities facing housing crisis to build power through victories for the 99%,” said Nick Espinosa, an organizer with Minneapolis-based Occupy Homes MN. “Over the last year, we’ve fought back against the banks, stopping evictions and winning homes, churches and community landmarks, while relieving debt and reclaiming land.”
(More below the fold)