VICTORY! St. Paul Lawyer Saves Own Home from Foreclosure with Occupy Homes MN

St. Paul, MN – Paul Lelii, a single father, attorney for his private law firm, and St. Paul homeowner, has been offered a principal reduction loan modification by Bank of America. 

The news came after a targeted campaign Occupy Homes MN led against Bank of America, urging them to renegotiate with Paul and four other homeowners. So far four of the five have won renegotiations, including Ruby Brown of north Minneapolis and Frank Clark and Kristina Darrington of Coon Rapids.

“Paul has shown courage, strength and passion for eliminating foreclosures throughout St. Paul,” said Lauren Siegel, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN. “His victory shows that banks can and will stop foreclosure when they face enough pressure to do so.”

Paul bought his home in 2006 and spent countless hours making beautiful renovations to the home. But soon family health concerns and the challenges of running a private law practice in a tough economy made finances difficult. In February 2011, Paul suffered a heart attack and missed a mortgage payment. He immediately reached out to the bank to discuss a modification, but was unable to get a straight answer from Bank of America and US Bank. 

Between the two banks, Paul submitted form after form and made countless calls to no avail. He was frustrated by their lack of response. “If I’m a lawyer and if I can’t fight them,” he wondered, “how can anybody else?”

Paul took the Occupy Homes pledge to remain in his home until he was offered a good faith negotiation. He has built support from friends, family, neighbors, city officials, Occupy St. Paul, and the Frogtown group Arts Resisting Foreclosure. “I’m doing this for my daughter Olivia,” said Paul. “I can’t disrupt her life with a move and I want to leave this house to her.”

Paul hopes to use his experience and legal skills to set up a Dispute Resolution Center to facilitate better communication between banks and foreclosed homeowners. “This is just one victory, but I’m not stopping here,” said Paul. “We need to set a precedent in St. Paul: no more foreclosures!”

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