Bank Backs out of Negotiation with Foreclosed Homeowner, Community Prepares to Raise the Stakes

After a massive public pressure campaign, Woodlands National Bank called foreclosed homeowner Anita Reyes-Reley Tuesday and made a concrete offer to keep her in her home.  Today, when Anita showed up money in hand, expecting a negotiation, she was told that the offer was off the table due to a minor technicality.

“This is my Trail of Tears. It may not be the same distance, but it’s the same heartache,” said a distraught Anita Reyes-Reley, a member of the White Earth reservation who has owned her home for 16 years.

Anita went into foreclosure when her vertigo prevented her from driving to work. She now works full-time at a casino and is more than able to pay her mortgage. But despite four separate offers from the Attorney General to look over the proper documents, Woodlands Bank has refused to agree upon a good faith negotiation that would keep Anita in her home.

Tuesday morning, the sheriffs arrived at Anita’s home to post a 24-hour eviction notice. While Anita contacted family and friends, Occupy Homes mobilized dozens of neighborhood supporters, repeatedly flooding Ms. Koonce’s voicemail with messages of support for Anita and securing nearly 200 petition signatures. Later that day Vice President Cindy Koonce called Anita from her personal cell phone, offering to drive down to Minneapolis to negotiate.

However, when Anita arrived to begin negotiations on Wednesday, she was told that the deal was off. “She needed to let us know by noon today if she had the money… It was not before noon,” said Joanne Whiterabbit at the Minneapolis branch of Woodlands Bank. “We’re done.” Anita had called Ms. Koonce at 12:04 pm.

“This is not about four minutes,” said Occupy Homes MN organizer Chris Gray. “The bank offered her a concrete deal. I might expect this from a Craigslist ad, but in this case, I can’t imagine a world where the difference between 11:59 and 12:04 should mean a woman gets thrown into the street.”

Neighbors rallied at a barbecue at Anita’s home last weekend to discuss how foreclosures affect their community and pledged support to Anita as she fights for her home.

“They said it’s over,” said Anita Reyes-Reley. “But it’s not over, because I’m still here.”

Add your reaction Share

Another South Minneapolis Family Wins Home on Eve of Cruz Family Caravan for Pittsburgh, Launching National Week of Action

556107_252983001470321_1136827413_n.jpg

This morning, homeowner Anita Reyes-Reley was served an eviction notice on the door of her home of 17 years.  Yet in a dramatic turn of events, by 3:00pm she received an offer from Woodlands National Bank that would keep her in her home. This improbable victory, the second for Occupy Homes MN in one week,  comes after community supporters successfully lead a pressure campaign consisting of phone calls, emails, and a petition to the bank demanding they negotiate a new loan for Anita.

“I’ve been waiting for this call for six months, and I wouldn’t have gotten it without Occupy Homes,” said homeowner Anita Reyes-Reley. “We’ve built a lot of pressure over the past month and the final push from community members over the past couple days finally brought the bank to the table.”

IMG_20120619_170722-1024x768.jpg

This announcement was shared with 60 community members, including nationally renowned local hip-hop artist Brother Ali,  in front of the Cruz family home. The community rallied today to send off the Cruz family, whose battle against an unjust foreclosure has become a focal point for the Occupy movement, to PNC bank headquarters in Pittsburgh to renegotiate their mortgage. The rally and Anita’s victory mark the kick-off of a coordinated week of actions across the country designed to bring national attention to the Cruz family’s situation.
IMG_20120619_164711-1024x768.jpg
“Our family can’t believe how much support we have received from around the country in our fight to save our home. We are so thankful for each and every one of you,” said Alejandra Cruz.

The Cruz family will travel 800 miles with their loan modification documents to demand a meeting with PNC Bank CEO Jim Rohr, and ask the bank to renegotiate their mortgage. On the way, they will visit Freddie Mac, the current owner of the house, at their regional office in Chicago.
IMG_20120619_172043-1024x768.jpg
In the past month, 24 activists with Occupy Homes MN have been arrested defending the Minneapolis home of the Cruz family from a foreclosure that began when PNC Bank failed to withdraw an online mortgage payment. David and Alejandra Cruz, who have already played a role in a successful movement for justice as DREAM Act activists, say their family can pay a mortgage and want to meet with bank officials to negotiate an agreement that will allow them to return to their home.

“The family has tried for over a year to modify their loan and send in the documents proving that they can pay the mortgage. Despite verbal commitments from PNC executives,” said Martha Ockenfels-Martinez of Occupy Homes, “we still have not seen a firm commitment from them to review the facts of this case. If the family has to drive to Pittsburgh and hand deliver the appropriate docs and get a face to face meeting with someone who can fix this, then that’s what we’ll do.”
IMG_20120619_165235-1024x768.jpg

“We feel like PNC and Freddie Mac have forgotten us,” said David Cruz. “So we’re going to remind them.”

*****

The schedule for the week’s actions are as follows:

WEDNESDAY 6/20, 1pm: Rally at Freddie Mac office, Chicago, IL.
The Cruz family will make a stop at the regional headquarters of Freddie Mac, the bailed-out secondary market lender that has posted guards and boarded up the doors and windows with reinforced steel to keep the Cruz family and supporters out of their home.

THURSDAY 6/21: National Day of Action Against PNC Bank.
As the Cruz family arrives at the PNC bank headquarters in Pittsburgh supporters will rally across the country to demand that PNC live up to their word and work with the Cruz family.

  • In Minneapolis supporters will hold a rally and vigil at the Cruz home (6pm Central Time; 4044 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN)
  • Rallies in support of the Cruz family are planned in Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Gainesville, Greensboro, Milwaukee, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, St. Louis.
  • In Pittsburgh the Cruz family delegation and local supporters will rally and march to PNC Headquarters. (1pm Eastern Time, Market Square)

For up-to-date information about events across the country visit: http://www.facebook.com/events/256490674453153/ or www.occupyhomesmn.org/

Video profile of the Cruz family story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_6Kz8MIpns&feature=youtu.be

High quality photos: http://peterleeman.tumblr.com/tagged/cruz-house

Alejandra Cruz’s petition for her family: http://www.change.org/CruzHome

Add your reaction Share

From Alejandra Cruz: Today We Leave for PNC Bank’s National Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Please Stand With Our Family

Screen-shot-2012-06-19-at-3.02.24-PM.pngFriends and Supporters,

Our family can’t believe how much support we have received from around the country in our fight to save our home. We are so thankful for each and every one of you.

After PNC Bank committed to working with our family to resolve this issue 23 of our friends and supporters were arrested during 5 eviction attempts in one week and PNC stopped returning our calls. That’s when we decided it was time to raise the stakes.

In just a couple hours, my brother David and I will embark on a caravan to PNC Bank’s national headquarters in Pittsburgh to attempt to hand deliver our family’s loan modification documents to Jim Rohr, the CEO. We hope to give him a chance to personally correct PNC’s mistake and make things right for our family.

Over 15 cities across the country have committed to rallying at PNC Bank branches in support of our family as part of the #J21 national day of action, and we believe that we are on the verge of finally getting justice for our family.

Can you take a few minutes to support our family and share my petition with 5 friends?

www.change.org/CruzHome

In addition, please like and share this #J21 facebook image which was shared over 1,000 times in under 24 hours!http://ow.ly/bGBDE

You can also follow: www.twiitter.com/OccupyHomesMN and hashtags #J21 and #CruzHome for more updates on our trip.

We are in need of support to finance the caravan and week of action. If you are able, you can donate to our efforts here:www.wepay.com/occupyhomesmn

Thank you so much for your support.

Si se puede,
Alejandra Cruz

Add your reaction Share