Erik Knutson

Erik Knutson published Calendar in About 2012-11-02 11:18:49 -0500

Erik Knutson published Clark’s Home in Our Homes 2012-08-01 20:10:34 -0500

Clark’s Home

 

For 9 years Frank Clark lived as a homeless man on the streets of Los Angeles, California. “Not couch surfing or living with friends, I’m talking about sleeping in alleys and doorways.” His unstable childhood led him to a life on the streets. During this period he recalls what it was like to be homeless during the holidays: “I remember sleeping on a sidewalk during Christmas. I remember looking up at the lights on the houses and thinking ‘Somebody lives there and calls that place home. How do people do that?’” 

 
14 years ago he made a return visit to Minnesota. It was Christmas time and he was still homeless. He stayed in Minnesota, got clean, met his wife Kristina, joined a Laborers Union, and went to work. This was 13 years ago. He became a member of Laborers Local 563 and has been a hard working dues paying member ever since. He and his wife worked on their credit scores, saved money and prepared to buy a home. In 2004 they were told that the only way for them to qualify for a loan was to accept an adjustable rate mortgage. They wisely decided to refuse the offer and wait until they could qualify for a fixed rate, conventional payment option. 
 
In 2006 Frank and Kristina were working full time and had built up a solid credit rating. They were told that they could finally qualify for a sensible fixed rate mortgage. They found a home in Coon Rapids for $230,000 and went for it. They made all payments on time until 2009, when labor jobs declined dramatically across the state, and Frank’s hours were cut. They applied for a loan modification and were offered a payment that was only slightly less than the original. Bank of America refused to offer anything other than a refinance plan that would have cost them more money in taxes and closing fees. 
 
After refusing the modification offer, Bank of America stopped taking their payments. On Feb 6th, 2012 their home was sold at sheriff’s sale. Ironically the buyer was the original Lender, Bank of America. BofA bought the note for $139,000. To be clear, Bank of America was unwilling to offer a modification for Frank and Kristina, but were more than willing to do so for themselves.

Frank and Kristina have been supporters of the Occupy Minnesota movement since the beginning, when they spent countless hours volunteering at the People’s Plaza.  They have built a community movement to prevent their eviction and to expose the truth of the foreclosure crisis affecting families not only in the city but also in the suburbs.  They have gained tremendous support from friends, family, neighbors, a local church, the Laborer’s Union, the Minnesota Attorney General, local media, and the Coon Rapids City Council.  Kristina shared her personal foreclosure story at a city council meeting and is supporting Our Future Minnesota in their fight to pass legislation preventing private banks from using public expenses when carrying out evictions.  Kristina stated, “Whatever happened with our home, I hope I have the strength and courage to go on to help other people.”  

With the support of Occupy Homes MN, Frank Clark and Kristina Darrington were able to receive a loan modification from Bank of America and Freddie Mac.  However, the modification included hidden fees that would have increased their payments, and the couple chose to decline the offer and move out of the home.


Erik Knutson published Paul’s Home in Our Homes 2012-08-01 18:57:00 -0500

Paul’s Home

Paul bought his home in Saint Paul on May 31st, 2006. He loved the neighborhood and was happy to spend 5% of his money as a down payment on the $176,900 home.  Over the next six years he spent countless hours and funds making beautiful renovations to the home. “Doors, windows, trim, ceilings, I’ve redone everything. There isn’t an inch of this house that I don’t know like the back of my hand,” explains Paul.

On April 1, 2007, Paul and his wife lost their first child to stillbirth.  The experience was devastating for both parents. Paul’s wife fell into a deep depression, as many parents in her situation do. She went to therapy, was diagnosed with clinical depression, PTSD and was unable to work for an extended period. Her temporary loss of income, coupled with Paul’s income loss at the hands of the general recession, landed them a month behind in mortgage payments in February 2011. Paul and his wife divorced shortly afterward. At the same time, Paul’s law practice began to suffer. As the economic crisis continued, his clientele thinned and active clients were often unable to pay on time.

He immediately reached out to Bank of America for help. They told him that, as his servicer, there was nothing they could do to help because the loan could not be modified. After submitting numerous documents and spending hours on the telephone with their untrained agents, they suggested he call Wells Fargo, the bank that owned the loan. He called Wells Fargo and they had him contacting countless people and submitting form after form, to only tell him that there is a new owner of the loan. Paul then located the owner of the loan, US Bank. They made him repeat the process; make many phone calls to Bank of America (the bank that services the loan) and provide documents. Bank of America and US Bank said the loan cannot be modified by the terms of the contract, but they never put that in writing. The banks have made it as difficult as possible to get a straight answer.  Paul became increasingly enraged at their evasive answers and deceptive practices especially considering they did not even own the loan. Paul says, “I’m an attorney, and if I can’t make sense of this process how can anyone else?”

Today, Paul’s private law practice has returned to being profitable. He has offered to pay US Bank/Bank of America the full monthly mortgage amount. “That’s the part that they’re missing, I care about this house! I want to be here. I want to make payments,” exclaims Paul.

Paul has a daughter, born in 2008. She has her own room in the house and she loves the house. “This is the main reason I am fighting and uniting with OCCUPY HOMES. She is the future, and I plan to pay this house off and leave it to her someday or die trying.”

Today, Paul is more committed than ever to staying in his home. He has taken The Pledge and agreed to organize his friends and neighbors to demand a good faith negotiation from the banks involved. Paul wants to host homeowner and community meetings in his home. “I’ll do whatever it takes to show these banks that this is OUR country. They’ve done everything they can to break our spirit and now I’m ready to fight back.”

http://www.change.org/petitions/bank-of-america-negotiate-with-me-to-keep-me-and-my-daughter-in-our-home


Riot Charges Against Anti-Foreclosure Activists Provoke Protest in City Hall

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Community supporters rally in City Hall to support peaceful anti-foreclosure activists who have been charged with rioting.

Chants of “drop the charges” echoed through City Hall this afternoon as 60 community supporters rallied to demand City Attorney Susan Segal drop all charges against anti-foreclosure protesters from the Occupy movement. Afterwards supporters packed the courtroom and overflowed into the hall as 11 defendants refused to plead guilty to their charges at the pretrial hearing.

On May 30, fifteen community supporters were peacefully arrested at the foreclosed Cruz family home as many linked arms and sat on the front stoop. Though they were originally charged with trespassing, the city decided to escalate the charges. 14 of the protesters arrested that day, as well as another arrested during a 4:00am raid on the Cruz family’s home,  now face charges of third degree riot, a gross misdemeanor, along with four other misdemeanors–which carry a total sentence of up to 2 years in prison and a $7,000 fine.

“The Minneapolis City Attorney’s decision to tack on charges of Third Degree Rioting–merely for being present at the Cruz home–is an outrageous abuse of the charging function,” said Michael Friedman, Executive Director of the Legal Rights Center. “The general public certainly knows what a riot is and what it isn’t; a law school education is not required.”

 


Erik Knutson published Contribute 2012-10-04 19:52:35 -0500

Information

Occupy Homes MN is a grassroots organization indentifying foreclosure not as the result of irresponsible borrowing, but as a symptom of a corrupt system that allows predatory lending while denying reasonable loan modifications. Occupy Homes MN works with homeowners facing foreclosure to help them stay in their homes by building public support around their cases and putting pressure on banks to negotiate in good faith. We facilitate neighborhood assemblies in order to build communities that can fight against foreclosure and economic injustice. We hope to organize homeowners to resist foreclosure en masse, with the objective of ending foreclosures in Minnesota and nationwide.

Your donation goes towards expenses, such as:
-signs & banners for rallies
-yard signs
-food & other expenses for events
-flyers & other printed materials
-homeowners fund
-spaces for meetings an events

Standard Membership: Purchase for $10.00 every month
Solidarity Member: Purchase for $15.00 every month
Supporting Member: Purchase for $25.00 every month
Sustaining Member: Purchase for $50.00 every month


Erik Knutson donated 2012-07-23 14:51:05 -0500

Introduction

 Occupy Homes MN is a grassroots organization indentifying foreclosure not as the result of irresponsible borrowing, but as a symptom of a corrupt system that allows predatory lending while denying reasonable loan modifications. Occupy Homes MN works with homeowners facing foreclosure to help them stay in their homes by building public support around their cases and putting pressure on banks to negotiate in good faith. We facilitate neighborhood assemblies in order to build communities that can fight against foreclosure and economic injustice. We hope to organize homeowners to resist foreclosure en masse, with the objective of ending foreclosures in Minnesota and nationwide.

 

How your donation can help:

$5- Prints 100 union made flyers
$10 Makes 1 union made t-shirt
$25 Makes 4 union made yard signs
$50 Supplies a neighborhood canvass
$100 Supports the kick off event of a homeowner


Shari Fagan-Crawford followed One Time Donation 2012-09-13 05:50:30 -0500

Membership

Occupy Homes MN is a grassroots organization indentifying foreclosure not as the result of irresponsible borrowing, but as a symptom of a corrupt system that allows predatory lending while denying reasonable loan modifications. Occupy Homes MN works with homeowners facing foreclosure to help them stay in their homes by building public support around their cases and putting pressure on banks to negotiate in good faith. We facilitate neighborhood assemblies in order to build communities that can fight against foreclosure and economic injustice. We hope to organize homeowners to resist foreclosure en masse, with the objective of ending foreclosures in Minnesota and nationwide.

Your donation goes towards expenses, such as:
-signs & banners for rallies
-yard signs
-food & other expenses for events
-flyers & other printed materials
-homeowners fund
-spaces for meetings an events


VICTORY!: North Minneapolis Woman Wins Home from Bank of America After Five-Year Foreclosure Battle

Ruby.jpg
Ruby Brown with members of her family in front of the north Minneapolis church where Ruby serves as a deacon.

After a five-year battle over now-illegal lending practices, a bank error that dropped her from a loan modification program, and a campaign with Occupy Homes MN, north Minneapolis homeowner Ruby Brown has received a mortgage renegotiation from Bank of America, just days before her home was to be auctioned off.

“This is an incredible victory for Ruby, who has been in the struggle for so long. It’s also something that can and should happen for everyone facing the loss of a home right now,” said Susan Kikuchi, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN.

Ruby, a hairdresser whose home of 17 years is the center of her family life, fell into foreclosure  after years of struggling with inflated payments in an adjustable rate mortgage, a predatory lending practice which is now illegal. She eventually received a trial modification and complied with its requirements for 12 months, but was dropped from the program anyway.

As though her struggle with the banks weren’t enough, Ruby’s home was damaged by the tornado that swept through North Minneapolis in 2011. Despite the uncertain future of her home, she threw herself into the project of repairing the home, a pillar for her family and a symbol of her community’s resilience despite disaster.

“Had it not been for my faith, I could not have made it through,” said Ruby, a deacon in her north Minneapolis church. She found herself relying on comforting words from a Muslim friend: “God is bigger than Bank of America.”

When Ruby began working with Occupy Homes MN and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change 6 months ago, she felt her shame dissolve. “It generated a fight in me,” she said. “I didn’t realize there were so many people in the same situation, that it wasn’t just me.”

Last week Occupy Homes MN held a week of action demanding that Bank of America renegotiate with the “Minnesota 5,” five homeowners who can all afford to pay their mortgage. The week of action included a call-in drive, a meeting with an executive in Apple Valley, and a banner drop over a busy Minneapolis intersection.

On Friday, the last day of the week of action, Ruby learned that her sheriff sale, scheduled just a few days away, had been canceled, and that her loan modification had been approved. “My first reaction wasn’t to laugh, jump, and shout–I had an outburst of tears of relief that justice had prevailed,” said Ruby. “I felt both joy and pain, because everyone should get this deal.”

North Minneapolis, where Ruby lives with her family, was targeted by large financial institutions with predatory lending practices and has suffered more from the foreclosure crisis than any other area of Minnesota. In some neighborhoods more than half of all homes have been foreclosed since 2007.

Ruby’s family is the fourth to win a modification from the bank to save their home with support from their community and Occupy Homes MN, after Bobby Hull, Monique White, and Colleen Mckee Espinosa.

“This is an American epidemic,” said Ruby. “The politicians and government need to have an antidote so everyone can be vaccinated. If they can do it for me, they can do it for everyone.”


Erik Knutson published Join 2012-07-20 12:09:28 -0500

Erik Knutson published Resources 2012-07-18 20:48:14 -0500

Resources

  

Occupy Our Homes

Occupy Our Homes is a national movement that supports Americans who stand up to their banks and fight for their homes.

Also check out Occupy Our Homes’ resources page for information about the causes and development of the foreclosure situation.

Occupy Minneapolis

Occupy Minneapolis is “creating a global, sustainable community that values the health of the Earth and its inhabitants over corporate profits.”