100 residents of the Eviction Free Zone and community members gathered Sunday for a barbecue at the home of retired postal worker Jaymie Kelly to support her demand for principal reduction from Chase Bank. Three of the Eviction Free Zone residents are seeking affordable mortgages with Chase: Jaymie, Sergio Ceballos and Paula Medlock.
Although Paula is in negotiations with the bank, Jaymie and Sergio face eviction in the coming weeks. And while Sergio’s redemption period ended April 9 and Jaymie’s ends on April 24, both declared their refusal to leave their homes to the crowd of more than 75 supporters. “Chase will deal with me, and it’s going to be a fair deal, because of all your support. This is my home, my neighborhood, my community,” Jaymie said.
Chase representatives initially refused to work with Sergio but have since promised to contact both him and Jaymie on the 23rd after a massive call-in campaign early last week to the office of Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, demanding the bank work with all three.
While Jaymie demands a mortgage at fair market value on a home she’s paid for 30 years, Sergio will not uproot his three children after the twelve years they’ve lived in their home and attended school in the neighborhood. “Education and housing justice are the same issue,” said Taylor Maness, an organizer with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “$150 million have been drained from the Minneapolis Public Schools because the big banks would rather foreclose on homeowners like Jaymie and Sergio than pay their fair share. Teachers have your backs in this struggle.” MFT 59 is advocating a strong Homeowner Bill of Rights in the legislature this session.
At the barbecue, neighbors signed onto the Declaration of the Eviction Free Zone
, heard from residents standing up in the Eviction Free Zone, along with brief words of solidarity from Minneapolis mayoral candidates in attendance. After Mayor Rybak used $45,000 of city resources to evict the Cruz family last summer, Occupy Homes hopes the next mayor will take a firm stance against the use of public resources to evict residents of Minneapolis attempting to negotiate with their banks. Betsy Hodges said, “We need to keep the fight up in the legislature to make sure we have mandatory mediation and a single point of contact,” echoing two of the demands on the Homeowner Bill of Rights recently blocked in the legislature by DFL senator and banker Jim Metzen
. Gary Schiff spoke to projects like the Eviction Free Zone forcefully “turning on its head” the narrative that community members should feel isolated and disempowered by the big banks. “What Chase is doing is not consistent with the values of this community. I’m going to stand with Occupy Homes every step of the way,” Schiff said.
The barbecue festivities included rallying a community delegation to put pressure on Chase offices in Minneapolis this Wednesday, April 24th, the last day of Jaymie’s redemption period and the day after the bank has promised to contact both Sergio and Jaymie. The action will coincide with similar delegations visiting Chase offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles as a part of a week of action to demand Chase work with the South Minneapolis Three.
"We've already seen that when neighbors come together to support each other in the Eviction Free Zone, they can win
real change from the banks," said Occupy Homes organizer Ginger Jentzen. “The banks and our public officials must face the fact that communities are coming together to develop solutions to the interrelated injustices of the economic crisis.”