Housing Crisis Victims Demand Negotiations as Senate Kills Homeowner Bill of Rights

Photo by Mark R. Brown.

40 residents and community supporters from the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone marched on Wells Fargo with boards used to illegally board up an occupied home as part of the “Homes for All” national day of action, hours after bank lobbyists killed the Homeowner Bill of Rights in the state Capitol.

Community supporters marched the boards and 7,000 petition signatures on behalf of Jessica English, a homeless single mother who has recently reclaimed an abandoned Wells Fargo home, to demand they call off their illegal eviction attempts and negotiate with Jessica to turn the home over to the community. Jessica has come home from work twice over the past two weeks to find that Wells Fargo had boarded up her home while she was gone--which is illegal without a court order under Minnesota law.

Jaymie Kelly, Jessica’s neighbor who is facing foreclosure after 30 years of homeownership, also demanded a negotiation from her bank today. She and her supporters took over J.P. Morgan Chase Homeownership Center in Edina for two hours to demand they rewrite her predatory loan. Chase officials agreed to meet with her and told her they would have an answer tomorrow about whether they can write her a new loan.

Meanwhile, at the Capitol, banker-turned-Senator Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, refused to allow the Homeowner Bill of Rights to be heard in the commerce committee because the bank lobbyists hadn’t agreed to it, effectively killing the bill. The commerce committee instead advanced a different foreclosure bill Wednesday night, S.F. 1276, that would merely codify existing foreclosure laws.

Photo by Chris Juhn.

“There is no excuse for refusing to even hear a modest bill that could stop thousands of Minnesota foreclosures just because the banks it seeks to regulate haven’t signed off on it,” said Nick Espinosa, whose family narrowly avoided foreclosure this year. “It’s clear that Wall Street has corrupted our democracy, but we’re not going to stop fighting in our neighborhoods and on the streets until every family is guaranteed safe and equitable housing.”

Minneapolis was one of ten cities across the country participating in actions March 13 launching Right to the City's Homes for All Campaign demanding affordable and community controlled housing throughout the country. Homes for All calls for direct community intervention and a strong government role to reclaim, remain in, and rebuild cities through community control instead of allowing big banks and developers to gamble away their homes.

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