Tens of thousands of people are still being evicted each month through foreclosure, and now private equity firms and hedge funds are executing a massive land grab in cities across the country.
In some cities, like Phoenix, there are already Wall Street-owned homes on every single block by the hedge fund Blackstone.
These Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms are pretending to help by renting out these vacant houses -- but we know that they are just trying to make more money off the banks of the 99%. One of these private equity firms has even released a new risky security backed by rental payments -- which is just like the mortgage-backed securities that destroyed the economy in 2008.
The story of Laura and her family show how we must stop this land grab and demand that housing be enshrined as a human right, not a means to make a short-term profit.
Laura, her son and 3 small dogs have lived in their Portage Park home for the last seven years. With the help of a partner, she bought the home in 2006 for nearly $400,000. After the market crashed, they attempted to refinance the mortgage. Following the bank’s instructions, Laura and her partner missed three months of their mortgage payments to qualify for a loan modification. But instead of working with the family, Bank of America put the home in foreclosure, using the highly controversial process of “dual tracking” in which banks simultaneously put families in the process of modifying their loans and put the loan in the foreclosure pipeline.
In Laura’s case -- as with so many other homeowners across the country -- the foreclosure process won.
Her home was sold at an auction and bought back by the government-owned mortgage giant Fannie Mae -- which then allowed a private equity firm, The Cogsville Group, to buy the right to manage her house and collect rent from the family. But when her home flooded this past spring, the company did not help her with clean up, mold remediation or repairs.
In efforts to pressure Cogsville to assume responsibility for its property management, Laura’s partner stopped paying the rent. But instead of negotiating under the circumstances, the family received an eviction notice.
Laura and her family are asking that the eviction be dropped, and that the Cogsville Group offer Laura a new lease with an option to buy.
Help us stop Laura’s eviction -- and send a message to Wall Street that they can no longer exploit our human needs for their short term profits!
Over the last few years, homeowners and residents around the country have taken a stand against the banks and fought foreclosures and evictions. The growing network of Occupy Our Homes supporters have signed petitions, made phone calls, and showed up to events to help families stay in their homes. Dozens of homeowners around the country have won their fights, but the crisis is far from over.
Communities have been destroyed as millions of families have already lost their homes to foreclosure, while millions more are underwater on their mortgages. The big banks are bigger and more powerful than ever. To date, no high level Wall Street executives have been prosecuted for their crimes, such as mortgage fraud and predatory lending. US attorney general, Eric Holder even admitted recently that in the administration's eyes, the banks are not only ‘too big to fail,’ they're now ‘too big to jail.’
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.
Only through the power of thousands of organized homeowners taking action in the streets can we make the Attorney General and the President listen.
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.
Over the next two months, Home Defenders from across the country will have an opportunity to tell their stories and fight back. Some will travel to Washington, DC the week of May 20th to make their voice heard directly at the Department of Justice.
Join the fight! Sign up now to fight in your city. Scholarships will be available to attend the Department of Justice Action in Washington DC.
After a public pressure campaign through the Eviction Free Zone of Occupy Homes MN, Gayle Lindsey, a nursing assistant and grandmother in South Minneapolis, who was facing imminent eviction, has won a modification of her mortgage from M&T Bank. Her victory marks the seventh for Occupy Homes MN and the first in the Eviction Free Zone, a project that brings neighbors in the Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods together to refuse to leave their homes without a fair negotiation.
Lindsey, whose renegotiation came a month after her redemption period ended, is the first victory in “the Zone.” With the help of Occupy Homes MN, she organized a series of actions, community potlucks, and press appearances. Lindsey received a call, while sitting at her kitchen table, from an executive at M&T Bank. The bank offered to write her a new and affordable mortgage.
“It shows that Occupy Homes MN works,” she says. “I want to move on to more victories for the community.”
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.”
December 6th Actions will vary from community to community, but include:
Eviction defenses/home occupations
Reclaiming vacant homes for the homeless
Establishing foreclosure and eviction-free zones
Marches and protests at big banks
On December 6, 2011, scores of groups around the country participated in a day of action for housing justice, launching the Occupy Our Homes movement. Since then, homeowners, housing justice activists, homeless advocates, and occupy groups have come together to fight back under the banner of Occupy Our Homes.
“All over the country, activists have declared housing a human right and come together in solidarity,” said Shab Bashiri, an organizer with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, “We’re occupying our homes to prevent eviction, disrupting foreclosure auctions, restoring vacant homes to community use, and putting the spotlight on the banks that caused this mess in the first place.”
But the fight is far from over. Despite dozens of victories for homeowners around the country, banks are still choosing to foreclose instead of taking payments, refusing to negotiate in good faith with families, still using fraudulent tactics like robo-signing to speed through illegal foreclosures. And bank-owned houses continue to sit empty and untended, destroying property values and pushing more families underwater.
Update, 1:45pm Eastern time, 11/29: In an act of civil disobedience, an activist has suspended himself from a street light, saying he's not coming down till Deutsche Bank gives the Luceros' the loan modification they promised. Others are gathered below. Police on the scene have declared an unlawful assembly. Watch on livestream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pmbeers
Alto a los desalojos! Halt the Foreclosures!
OCCUPIERS ESCALATE DIRECT ACTIONS FOR L.A. FAMILIES FACING FORECLOSURE BY DEUTSCHE BANK #N29
After residing in East Los Angeles for 15 years, the Lucero family faces eviction by the Sheriffs Department following a questionable foreclosure by Deutsche Bank. The Luceros made payments towards a loan modification on time, but Deutsche Bank refuses to help the family stay in their home. Homeowner Margarita Lucero explains, “I just want to keep my home and I want the bank to accept the payment plan they promised me. I want to keep my family together.” The German bank is currently facing several lawsuits by the U.S. Government and the City of Los Angeles for their participation in fraud and blight conditions in Los Angeles. They are now under fire from Occupy Los Angeles.
This Thursday, a coalition involving Occupy LA, Occupy Fights Foreclosures, Occupy Whittier, and Community Members of East Los Angeles will take part in an organized civil disobedience action. A rally will take place where multiple L.A. homeowners and Deutsche Bank clients will share their stories. Street performances will be staged.
If you aren't in LA and want to support the action and Lucero family, call or fax Deutche Bank and tell them to let the Luceros stay!
Video: Occupy LA March on the Banks
The following video is from a Nov. 9th 2012 march by hundreds of supporters on several banks in Los Angeles (including Deutsche Bank, as well as Wells Fargo, BNY Mellon, and Bank of America) to protest illegal foreclosures, the banks' greed, and a corrupt system built to enrich the wealth of a few at the expense of the 99%. The video features interviews/speeches from Occupy activists from southern California and members of other groups including Occupy The Hood, the American Indian Movement, and LA residents facing foreclosure and homelessness.