Anita Reyes-Reley planned on moving out of her South Minneapolis home last Tuesday when she received an eviction notice from Hennepin County Sheriffs. Now she is unpacking her boxes, planting a garden, and building community support to stay in her home.
“All that I am asking is for Woodlands National Bank to sit down and negotiate with me, so I can stay in my community,” said Anita.
Ms. Reyes-Reley, who has owned her home for 17 years, fell behind on her mortgage when her hours were cut and vertigo prevented her from making the 100-mile one-way drive to work. She reached out to Cindy Koonce, Vice President at Woodlands National Bank, to find a solution to stay in her house. Ms. Koonce told Anita she would do everything she could to help her. The Attorney General offered to look over Anita’s loan documents for the bank. Anita returned to work, earning more than enough to afford her mortgage. To Anita’s shock, however, on the end date of her redemption period, Ms. Koonce called Anita and told her she needed to leave her home.
With the help of Occupy Homes MN, Anita began building a public pressure campaign, including call-ins and a petition, for Woodlands National Bank to renegotiate her mortgage so she could stay in her home. That same day, Ms. Koonce called Anita and made a concrete offer to keep her in her home. But the following day, when Anita showed up to negotiate, she was told that the offer was off the table due to a minor technicality: she had called the bank four minutes too late.
“This is not about four minutes,” said Occupy Homes MN organizer Chris Gray. “The bank’s erratic behavior is disturbing. I can’t imagine a world where the difference between 11:59 and 12:04 should mean a woman gets thrown into the street.”
Occupy Homes MN, which recently garnered media attention from around the country for its continuous defense of the Cruz home after eviction orders were posted, vowed to begin a similar eviction defense and public campaign. The American Indian Movement has also pledged its support.
“All I want to do is to pay my mortgage and stay in my home,” said Anita. “I am not leaving. I have nowhere to go.”