A rapid response of 50 community members forced US Bank's management company to take down steel plates and retreat from a foreclosed south Minneapolis home as they tried to board it up.
The home had been reclaimed by community members after its foreclosure to house people experiencing housing instability. "If US Bank and Bank of America evict this home, it will be the fourth empty house on its block," said Antoine Martinneau, a resident of the home and an organizer with Occupy Homes MN. "We need the banks who caused the housing crisis to stop blighting our neighborhoods and start building with our communities."
The home on 14th Avenue South is part of south Minneapolis' Eviction Free Zone, where neighbors stand up to resist unjust evictions. It stands less than a block from the home of Sergio Ceballos, where community members fended off the sheriffs' eviction attempt on July 24. Two months later, Sergio remains in his home and is hoping to reach a solution with JPMorgan Chase.
"3.5 million people in this country are experiencing homelessness as 18 million homes sit vacant," said Nick Espinosa, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN whose family narrowly avoided foreclosure last year. "Our communities will no longer watch our brothers and sisters sleep on the streets as homelessness hits a six-year high in Hennepin County and hundreds of homes go unused."
"We're working to make south Minneapolis an Eviction Free Zone. What happened today shows the strength and power of community fighting together for something they believe in," said Mike McDowell, whose grandmother owned the home and who currently resides there. "This is the fifth time the banks have tried to board up the house. But when people fight and are persistent, the banks have to listen."
Photos by Mark R. Brown.