As community supporters packed Anoka County District Court yesterday, the Garcia family won a two-month extension on their eviction notice from Wells Fargo. They now have until August 28 to stay in their home, giving them two more months to convince Wells Fargo to negotiate with them.
"We do not want to leave the house, we want to live in it. Our daughter is growing up here at home, is very happy and fond of her friends, her school, her neighbors. We are rooted in the community and cannot leave all this that we have struggled for in our family," said Arturo Garcia, who lives in his Columbia Heights home with his wife Olivia, daughter Juquila, and friend Juan, who has been a renter in the family home for five years.
Renters in foreclosure are entitled to additional protection under Minnesota law, giving them an extra 90 days after the end of the redemption period plus the remainder of their lease. Arturo and Olivia reached an arrangement with Wells Fargo to let the whole family and Juan stay until August 28.
Like the Ceballos family two weeks before, the Garcias were not permitted a Spanish-speaking advocate in the courtroom or even an interpreter because they had failed to request one in advance, even though they had brought many bilingual supporters who were able to interpret--further demonstrating the housing crisis' particular impact on Latino families, who nationwide have lost two-thirds of their wealth since the crisis began. Eventually, the judge agreed to allow the Garcias' priest to interpret.
Among the Garcias' courtroom supporters were student leaders from Macalester College's Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus campaign. "We know that Wells Fargo will only do the right thing with enough community pressure," said Leewana Thomas, a student organizer with KWOC. "We are planning a series of actions to let Wells Fargo know the community is behind Arturo and Olivia. Now we have two more months to pressure Wells Fargo to negotiate with the Garcia family. We shall not be moved."