Community Rolls Up Sleeves and Repairs Home to Prepare for Negotiation

Last Sunday, a dozen supporters worked through 100-degree heat to complete some minor repairs on Anita Reyes’ south Minneapolis home.  About six weeks before, Woodlands National Bank had used the repairs as an excuse not to work with Reyes, claiming that it was unable to negotiate a mortgage for a condemned house.

In spite of the heat, spirits were high. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to work with  homeowners,” said Iain Wilson, an Occupy Homes MN organizer. “We want to do what’s right for communities.”

For Occupy Homes MN, the event was a change of pace from some of its recent actions against foreclosure.  Shovels and paintbrushes replaced concrete barrels and barricades.  Among the supporters were children and retired neighbors.

Chris Gray, a veteran of the intense confrontations with Minneapolis Police Department at the Cruz house, said, “We’re showing the banks that communities have the resources, in terms of people, knowledge, and materials, to find solutions. People want their neighbors to succeed--it’s what’s right for the community.  I wish Woodlands National Bank shared the same perspective.”  

In early June, Anita received an eviction order. After an intense pressure campaign, the bank called Anita, offering her a two-year rent-to-own lease, ending with a new mortgage. When Anita went to accept the offer, Woodlands claimed that she had been four minutes late, and thus, would not be eligible for a negotiation.

In spite of growing community support, the bank has refused to contact Anita.  Last week, supporters drove 90 miles to the bank to try and meet with Anita’s broker. Rather than meeting, Woodlands National Bank called the police.  Supporters say they will return to the bank, demanding a good-faith negotiation.

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