My name is Anita Reyes-Reley and this is the story of my Trail of Tears. It may not be the same distance, but it’s the same heartache.On Tuesday, June 19th, the sheriff posted a 24-hour eviction notice on the front door I have come home to for the last 17 years. I am not leaving. I have nowhere to go. I am standing up for myself, my family and community. Although American Indians make up 1% of the population in Minnesota, 11% of homeless adults are American Indian. I can afford to pay for my house.All that I am asking is for Woodlands National Bank to sit down and negotiate with me, so I can stay in my community. They are an Indian bank that serves Native people, and right now homelessness is revenging our community. With the support of my neighbors and community, I know Woodlands bank will negotiate witth me, and become part of the solution to the housing crisis we face.When I first bought my home, I slept like a baby. It wasn’t some unfamiliar place that was new, it was home. Many times, I’ve been in my backyard and thought to myself, “Some day I’m going to be an old lady here.”I’ve lived in my home for 17 years now. As the years passed, I’ve watched the cedar that I’ve planted grow from fitting in the palm of my hand to as tall as my house. I’ve stood by, smiling, as my great-nieces and nephews picked raspberries from the bushes in my yard. I’ve watched, as my house has grown from my place to a communal place, for my family, my friends, and my community.But back in late 2010, I had a rough few months. In December, I found out that my job had cut my hours. I was still able to make the first three months payments, but by May I just didn’t have enough. On July, 2011, I received notice of my home’s impending sheriff’s sale. I tried calling Cindy Koonce, the vice president of Woodlands National Bank, to try to negotiate a new plan to allow me to keep paying. Cindy said she’d help me. But she refused two Attorney General offers to keep me paying and in my home.
The stress of possibly losing my house began to affect my health. I experience vertigo and there were times during those months where I’d try to walk forward only to be moved sideways. I wanted to go to work so badly, but it wasn’t safe for me to drive. I was afraid I would hurt a child, because I couldn’t control the car. So I stayed home.
For several months I wasn’t able to go to work, but Woodlands never asked for proof of hardship. Even after I was able to find a new job, and could easily afford my old monthly payments, Woodlands refused, asking for all the money at once.
Woodlands National Bank is a Native business. I wanted them to support them; I wanted to be a part of their success. But what happened to me didn’t happen to me by choice. It was Woodlands Bank’s choice to not negotiate. All I want to do is pay my mortgage.
Sign Anita's petition to Woodlands National Bank.