South Minneapolis residents unveiled the Declaration of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone last Saturday at Green Central School during a neighborhood assembly facilitated by Occupy Homes MN. Six South Side residents facing foreclosure announced their intention to stay in their homes until they receive a good-faith negotiation from their lender: Jaymie Kelly, Nafeesah Abdullah McReynolds, Nathaniel Daniel, and Gayle and Christina Lindsey, whose family was recently contacted by the Vice President of Loss Mitigation at M&T Bank.
Residents also welcomed Jessica English and her four children, who have been experiencing homelessness, and are intending to move into one of the hundreds of neglected bank-owned vacant properties in the neighborhood on February 23rd (details to be announced soon). Jessica said, "Over 30% of homeless people in Minnesota are children. I am so excited to become a part of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone, and stand with these brave women in their struggle for housing justice."
Jaymie Kelly, who could face eviction in the next few months, appealed for support, and highlighted Occupy Homes' value that organized communities can challenge the big banks. "My life is like a banyan tree, and my roots are in the neighborhood I live in. I am not moving," said Jaymie, who has lived in the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood for decades.
The Declaration of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone centers around the demand that safe, equitable, and affordable housing should be made available to everyone in the community. "The struggle to stop foreclosures and reclaim vacant properties are interrelated," explained Occupy Homes organizer Ginger Jentzen. "Both are steps toward community control of housing."
On Februrary 27th, 2013, there will be a major action for housing justice. Please save the date.
Below is the text of the Declaration of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone:
Declaration of the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone
We, the residents of the Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis, hereby declare our community a Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone. We pledge not to move out of our homes until stable, equitable, and affordable housing is accessible to everyone who lives in our neighborhoods.
We refuse to watch any more of our neighbors forced out of our community.
As our community has suffered 835 foreclosures since 2007, our elected officials refuse to act. Though the Central and Powderhorn Neighborhoods are among the poorest in Minneapolis, we owe Wall Street over $52 million in negative equity. While many of us are homeless, abandoned homes sit uselessly vacant. As Wall Street and the big banks are again making record profits, in our community we have seen no relief from the foreclosure crisis.
We will no longer be held hostage by the tyranny of the financial institutions that crashed our economy. We have come together as a community to voice our collective demands, and will not move from our homes until they are met.
Mandatory mediation. Before proceeding with an eviction, banks must demonstrate in writing that they have attempted to negotiate in good faith with any resident. Similar legislation in Connecticut directly helped 42% of all homeowners facing foreclosure.
No public resources for unjust evictions. Our public servants, city officials, police officers and sheriffs must not interfere with any negotiation by evicting residents who intend to negotiate with their lender.
Principal Reduction. Lenders must rewrite all mortgages to reflect today’s housing prices at an affordable fixed interest rate. This would inject $52 million directly into our neighborhoods and provide relief to thousands of families.
A moratorium. State and Federal authorities must declare an immediate stop to foreclosures and evictions until policies are in place to ensure stable, affordable, quality housing for all. City and County officials could enact a de facto moratorium by publicly refusing to carry out evictions of unjust foreclosures.
We believe that safe, equitable, and affordable housing is a human right. Until this vision becomes a reality for all of our neighbors, we stand together against foreclosures and evictions. We hereby declare the Powderhorn and Central neighborhoods of South Minneapolis a Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone.
We shall not be moved.