50 neighbors and community members showed up to welcome Jessica English's family to the neighborhood at a community meal on Saturday.
As a volunteer canvasser in Occupy Homes’ Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone, Jessica English discovered a vacant home that had been broken into and was being used as a drug house. Jessica, a single mother of four, student, writer and dedicated worker, had recently found her family homeless after years of surviving on poverty wages.
Jessica spoke with the neighbors on the block. With Occupy Homes MN, they developed a plan to move into the home, fix it up, and contribute to the community. The neighbors are very supportive, especially after the last vacant home on the block had been used to house the violence of the sex trade.
Saturday marked a housewarming for the home, with chili, cake, and confetti eggs Jessica's school-age daughters had prepared for the occasion.
This Wednesday, hundreds of community members along with allies from faith, labor, and community organizations will march on Wells Fargo, which owns this vacant home. There they will demand Wells Fargo donate the home to the community so it can be used for affordable housing instead of sitting vacant and attracting crime.
“As Wells Fargo turns its back on vacant homes that add blight to the community, one in 45 children is homeless every night,” said Jessica. “I think it’s time that we start asking why, and start providing the answers to do something about it. Houses are for keeping families together, not for tearing communities apart.”
Before and after photos of Jessica's reclaimed home below.