Home Defenders Take Action Against Wells Fargo in Support of 86 Year Old Grandmother Facing Foreclosure

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. 

Judge stops eviction of homeowner with disabilities

From Moratorium Now:

 

Detroit — S. Baxter Jones appeared before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Walter Shapero on April 4 in a desperate attempt to stop his eviction from his home. Shapero, in a move that stunned many attorneys, gave Jones a 30-day adjournment, thus keeping the homeowner with disabilities from becoming another victim of Wells Fargo Bank and the federal government’s Fannie Mae agency.

The courtroom was filled with supporters, who sat in hushed silence straining to hear Jones’ remarks. Activists in wheelchairs and with service dogs representing Warriors on Wheels; members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs; It Takes A Village Y’all; and the Detroit Eviction Defense had rallied to an appeal to “pack the court” that had gone out over social media.

Jones had been severely injured in an accident in 2005. He was well known in Detroit as a school teacher who coached students in track and field. After his injuries, Jones fell behind on the mortgage for his Jackson, Mich., home while waiting for Social Security payments to begin. His appeal for a forbearance from his bank was callously ignored and foreclosure followed.

Jones addressed the judge with clear but labored speech. He explained the circumstances that had brought him to this point and appealed for the chance to keep his home. A written statement that Jones had prepared, appealing for justice that doesn’t benefit greed but rather those in need, was read to the court by a supporter.

Judge Shapero overruled the objections of the attorney for Fannie Mae, who listed all the “proper” legal steps taken by her client to put Jones out of his home. The judge agreed that the law was clear, but stated that “the law isn’t everything.” He ordered the 30-day adjournment until the court could appoint an attorney to assist Jones on a pro bono basis.

 

A holiday message from home occupier Marc Simon

Marc Simon and his mother Pearl have been fighting Fannie Mae and JP Morgan Chase to keep Pearl’s home of over 50 years. Marc created a campaign on Start2.OccupyOurHomes.org to build organizing power around their case. So far, they’ve been able to keep their home, but they’re not out of the woods yet.

Marc emailed us a holiday note and asked that it be shared with the Occupy Our Homes community of activists. It is copied below.

Hello, Housing Justice Advocates and Kind People,

Looking out the front windows in my home that I share with my elderly mother Pearl on the eve of Christmas, the scene looks unusually magical: a combination of snow and ice has gathered within nearby maple and evergreen trees, creating a scene that seems as it were pulled out of one of those family Christmas specials that have run for decades on TV. Add in the tinsel and lights on some of these trees, and it is especially enchanting. For five decades now, my mother and I have seen an attractive holiday-season spectacle out of our front windows, but this holiday season, the decorations, snow and ice seem to have come together to make it especially memorable for us.

For those following the OccupyOurHomes.com website, it is apparent that this holiday season, we nearly did not get treated to this sort of magical spectacle. An unmanageable mortgage loan solicited to my late father a few years before he died created an odyssey of difficulty for us that I would not wish for any of my neighbors to go through. Even last year’s spectacle of eagerly looking out the front window was nearly short-circuited for us: the big bank that pushed that mortgage loan – with the loan especially becoming unmanageable after my father died — gave us a December 25, 2011 evacuation date in a letter. It is a small miracle that we are able to see December 25, 2012, in all its frosty, magical glory, out of our front window this year.

If there is any God out there, it is perhaps due to him working a bit of magic on the fellow working from “the other team” who was given the highly unusual task of carrying out a summary eviction almost as soon as the judicial order to allow this was received. Evictions are quite rarely locally carried out this way, and the attorney who was asked to do this to us simply could not throw out an 86-year-old disabled woman, who had been in her home for 52 years, in this manner. My own attorney explained to me that both he and that other fellow are Rotarians – people in the business world who are held to an ethical code in how they conduct business and life. One doesn’t need to try to provide “product placement” to any fraternal nonprofit group out there to say that this action does speak well of the Rotary International in how its members have chosen to obey its ethical code, and put the community welfare at the top of the list in how they conduct themselves to others in their communities.

My Christmas/holiday wish out there is for more people in the financial and legal world to “be Rotarian in spirit” and to realize that leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths through the pushing of unmanageable financial products, which may well return robust quick profits, is probably not the best way for banks and other financial institutions to cultivate lifetime customers. After all, after the kind of experience that I and my mother went through, who would even want to have a basic checking account at one of these institutions? Maybe one day, these institutions will see that “a different way” is not only the right thing to do, but is actually good for business in the long term as well.

This is my wish, along with hoping that anyone facing foreclosure is able to keep their homes if they wish to do so, and that even people facing post-eviction trauma, such as the Vinjes who have graced this website with their sad saga, can find peace and hopefully even get their homes back if at all reasonably possible. In my previous personal comments written here, I indicated that I would rather take a proactive as opposed to a reactive stance in regards to housing justice. As a New Year’s resolution, keep posted here: I have something special, as a spinoff from my academic work as a student, that I think is innovative and can help in that regard, to be posted as a link to the “Start2” OccupyOurHomes website. It has tools and concepts that would be more valuable to all concerned – even to the financial and housing institutions out there – than my and my mother’s foreclosed house in their possession, I humbly feel. (And, by the way, I love feedback and suggestions!) Keep posted!

Again, best wishes to all…and for now, I and my mother still have that magical window scene to inspire us — and give us hope…. –Regards/Peace, Marc Simon

Evicted Family Moves into Vacant Home for the Holidays

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.”

Jacqueline Barber Goes to Minneapolis to Deliver Petition to US Bank

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.

Urgent: Help stop Marc & Pearl Simon’s eviction by Chase & Fannie Mae

(Update below)

Marc Simon recently created a petition on Start2.OccupyOurHomes.org, asking Fannie Mae and JP Morgan Chase to stop the eviction of him and his 86 year old mother Pearl from their home. Despite their efforts, Marc and Pearl are facing eviction today, November 9th. Marc has issued a plea for support and a call to action. He writes:

 

This is Marc Simon again in regards to the pending eviction situation of me and my mother Pearl. Chase Bank, in a postal letter, stated that it would get back to us by November 6, but instead have still not gotten back to me or my local attorney, Matt McKeever, who has repeatedly tried calling Scott Pullins at Chase, the designated contact mentioned by Chase in its letter. Fannie Mae has been highly aggressive in wanting to evict us — instead of the normal approach of the Sheriff coming and telling the occupant(s) that they have ten days to leave their home, Fannie Mae tried to get an eviction immediately at the time the Sheriff arrived Tuesday. This is highly unusual — local evictions are quite rarely carried out this way. (There was a humanitarian bone in the attorney for Fannie Mae [who came along with the Sheriff], who did grant us three additional days to vacate, despite Fannie Mae wanting it otherwise.)

 

Read Marc’s full letter below the fold.

Please take action for Marc and Pearl right away by signing their petition to Chase and Fannie Mae, then please ask your friends to do the same.

Update (11/9/12):

I just got word from Marc that they’ve received a 30 day stay of eviction. He will keep fighting to get a long-term solution, but he and his mother are safe for today.

Occupy Homes MN: Save Rose McGee’s Home!

Rose McGee is working with Occupy Homes MN to get Citimortgage and Fannie Mae to stop her eviction. She’s created a campaign onStart2.OccupyOurHomes.org to help build support for her fight natioanally. Rose is asking “CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae [to] reverse the sale and allow me to stay in my home of nearly 20 years.” Rose has the money to make payments and wants the banks to take her money, not her home.

In her petition, she tells her story:

I am Rose McGee. Please support me in my effort to get CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae to allow me to stay in my home. I am like you; I have worked hard all of my life. I have contributed to my community. I pay my taxes. I tried to live out the American dream by buying a house. I have lived in my home and paid my mortgage for almost 20 years.

And like some of you I am middle aged and have raised my children in my home. It is the source of my fondest memories, children growing up, backyard barbecues, basketball games in the yard, graduation parties. For nearly 20 years it has been my home.

Unfortunately like many other Americans I was laid off from a job I loved. When I regained employment, CitiMortgage promised to work with me to modify my loan–but at the same time as they were reassuring me that they were going to work with me, they sold my home from under me. Citi says Fannie says they will not re-instate my mortgage. I can pay, I am working, but they don’t want my money. Instead, Citi and Fannie are putting me out of my home that I have worked so hard for.

I don’t understand why they aren’t sympathetic to my plight. After all, the government bailed them out and gave them our tax dollars when they needed help. I am not asking for a handout, just a modification. Please sign my petition asking CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae to reverse the sale and allow me to stay in my home. Thank you. Rose McGee

Support Rose by signing her petition on Start2.OccupyOurHomes.org.

Community members denounce Wells Fargo & US Bank for their heartless treatment of cancer patients

Today actions in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco will target Wells Fargo and US Bank, asking them to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by halting foreclosures and evictions of cancer patients and others batting serious illness and instead negotiate fair and affordable mortgages that will allow families to stay in their homes.

The organizers are highlighting the cases of Jacqueline Barber of Georgia and Ana Casas Wilson in Los Angeles who are each battling cancer and working with housing activists to resist imminent evictions after facing foreclosure despite repeated pleas to the banks to renegotiate their home loans. Occupy Homes Atlanta activists have set up an encampment at the home of Jacqueline Barber, a retired police officer; the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) working to stop the eviction of Casas, a longtime advocate for the disabled.

More details on the campaigns, as well as the four events today, are below the fold.

Atlanta: JoSelf Freeman’s eviction was stopped today, but his fight goes on

This morning, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta was able to stave of the eviction of JoSelf Freeman, who was facing eviction at the hands of Bank of America and Fannie Mae. JoSelf has a petition going on Start2.OccupyOurHomes.org and has been working with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta to keep his home. Here’s the update on this mornings victory from OOH ATL:

With ya’lls help we were able to put off JoSelf’s eviction this morning! If it weren’t for all the calls, emails, and folks in JoSelf yard there’s no doubt that his belongings would be in the yard.

JoSelf has been granted an additional 17 days before another eviction date. That means we have 17 days to building JoSelf campaign and convince Fannie Mae and Bank of America to do the right thing.

For those that haven’t seen it, here is JoSelf’s story:

More below the fold

Foreclosure Fraud Whistleblower Lynn Szymoniak Exposes Fraud in Fayetteville

Tim Franzen of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta has an update on a big development in Jacqueline Barber’s fight to keep her home. Famed robosigning and foreclosure fraud whistleblower Lynn Szymoniak has exposed evidence of fraud in Jacqueline’s mortgage assignments. Tim has a report back of Lynn’s event in support of Jacqueline:

Today Fayette County Woman Jacqueline Barber, who’s refused to leave her home despite battling cancer and being under threat of eviction fro US Bank and GMAC, got a visit from someone else who has experience fighting the big banks.

West Palm, FL resident Lynn Szymoniak is the reason “robo signing” is a nasty practice almost everybody has heard of. While Lynn was facing foreclosure she discovered serious problems with the assignments. Documents filled out wrong, missing or terribly incorrect information, and counterfeit signatures, all ways the big banks cut corners so they could foreclose and evict people faster. Lynn took them to task, and won!

Having exposed several serious problems with the assignments, and feeling a connection with Jacqueline, Lynn volunteered to fly to Atlanta to do a press junket at Jacqueline’s home and spend the day with Jacqueline’s supporters.

The settlement she helped the US government win cost the big banks over 25 billion dollars, which she admits should have been closure to two trillion. Lynn volunteered to take a look at Jacqueline’s paperwork and guess what she founds, “I look at the assignments and said, ‘Oh no, this isn’t right.’ Four different dates the trust acquired Jacqueline’s mortgage in 2007 and 2011. I know this is not correct,” Szymoniak said.

Go below the fold for more information about Lynn’s work in support of Jacqueline Barber.