When Gayle Lindsey appeared on KFAI radio Monday morning, she half-expected to return home to an eviction notice. Gayle’s redemption period ended January 28th. Instead, she received a call from the Assistant Vice President of Loss Mitigation at M&T Bank, Sasko Popovski, who announced his intention to work with Gayle, and agreed to postpone her eviction hearing in housing court. “He said he’d do whatever it takes to find a solution to keep her in her home,” said Christina Lindsey, Gayle’s daughter. “We’ve gotten the bank's attention.”
While the phone call is the most promising development for Gayle’s case in months, Occupy Homes organizers hope that it is the first step towards a solution for the communities that have been most affected by the housing crisis. “While this is a promising development for Gayle, there are dozens of families in the neighborhood who deserve a similar deal" said Occupy Homes Organizer and neighbor, Chris Gray, "We have to use this victory to build a movement that guarantees safe, affordable and equitable housing is available to everyone in our community."
Gayle Lindsey has lived in South Minneapolis for over 30 years, and has owned her Central Neighborhood home since 2001. She grew up in Selma, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. “I know what justice is,” Gayle explained. “I remember a high school walk out after the Martin Luther King assassination in 1968. Everyone from my school went along.”
Like millions of other families, Gayle lost her home to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Her wages did not increase with the cost of property taxes and mortgage payments. When Gayle’s hours were cut, her modest South Minneapolis home was unaffordable. Gayle reflected, “At times, I felt hopeless.”
Occupy Homes organizers knocked on Gayle’s door a few months ago as part of an attempt to contact every family facing foreclosure in the Central and Powderhorn Neighborhoods as part of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone (FEFZ). The project is based on the idea that entire communities need to unite in struggle to solve the housing crisis. Along with Gayle, three other homeowners in the Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods have refused to move until they receive a good-faith negotiation from their lenders.
“While it looks like Gayle might get a deal, it’s important to note that hundreds in our communities deserve the same deal as well,” said Chris Gray. Gayle’s potential victory highlights the possibilities for other southside homeowners. Neighbors in similar circumstances, Jaymie Kelly, Genet Beyene and Nafeesah Abdullah McReynolds-El, are building campaigns at the moment. Collectively, these homeowners demand affordable mortgages written at the current market value for their homes. Occupy Homes organizers believe that if a majority of those facing foreclosure publicly resist, it will force city and state politicians to intervene and push the banks into negotiation.
Gayle Lindsey will announce her news at the Neighborhood Assembly this Saturday, February 9th, 2:00pm, at Green Central School (3416 4th Ave S). Organizers and homeowners have invited a diverse group of guests, including families facing foreclosure, neighbors, local clergy, politicians, unions, supporters and housing justice activists to discuss and plan the next steps of the campaign to make an entire community foreclosure and eviction free.