Ellison, Hodges, Majority of Council Members join call to halt unjust evictions

75 community members, bolstered by support from Rep. Keith Ellison, a majority of the City Council, and a statement from Mayor Betsy Hodges, rallied today for Jaymie Kelly, a 30-year homeowner who is facing imminent eviction, demanding that Freddie Mac’s new director change policies to negotiate with homeowners, and that the city not use public resources for unjust evictions. 

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"Jaymie's lived in her home 30 years. Her adult daughter grew up in that house doing her homework on the kitchen table. And now she could be evicted any day,” said Congressman Keith Ellison. “This is wrong. It's time Freddie Mac knew that the days of kicking hardworking decent Americans out of their homes are over.”

Rep. Ellison also read a statement from Mayor Hodges calling on Mel Watt, the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to work with homeowners like Jaymie by reversing harmful policies:

“In the last year, I have had the privilege of getting to know, respect and like Jaymie Kelly. She has given her time, her attention and her money to our city for many years. She has helped us build strong neighborhoods and strong communities. Jaymie Kelly is a valued resident of the city of Minneapolis.
“Unfortunately — and like far too many Minneapolis residents — Jaymie got caught up in the cross-hairs of the foreclosure crisis. Like far too many Minneapolis residents, Jaymie got caught up with unscrupulous lenders. And like far too many Minneapolis residents, Jaymie got caught up in dual-tracking, a practice that is now illegal. All of that is wrong.
“In the midst of all that wrong, our community wants something that is right: we want Jaymie to stay in Minneapolis, in her home.
“Freddie Mac has the ability to turn all that wrong into a right, by negotiating with Jaymie for a fair price for her home. That’s all she’s asking. I’m proud to join Jaymie and Congressman Keith Ellison in calling on Freddie and its new leader, Mel Watt, to negotiate fairly with Jaymie today.” 

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 Congressman Keith Ellison stands with Jaymie, reading a statement in support from Mayor Betsy Hodges.

"I've paid for my home of 30 years five times over because I was the victim of a predatory loan. But Freddie Mac refuses to work with me because Mel Watt won’t allow principal reduction,” said Jaymie Kelly. “I am not asking for that much. I’m asking for a negotiation at fair market value. My community stands with me, and we are not leaving."

Mel Watt, the new director of FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, took office in January after a two-year national grassroots campaign called for the ouster of his predecessor, Ed DeMarco. DeMarco became a national target of the housing justice movement after refusing to enact principal reduction or negotiate with struggling homeowners. Watt’s office has told Jaymie they cannot negotiate with her because it would be in contravention of their policy against principal reduction, indicating that they have so far chosen to continue these policies.

Jaymie’s home has become a symbol of the national fight for change at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together oversee half of all mortgages. Solidarity actions are being held this week in Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas.

“While we push for federal level policy change, homeowners like Jaymie can’t wait.  That’s why local progressive champions are joining us to demand that our city set an example for the rest of the country by finding creative solutions to keep families in their homes,” said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and a member of Betsy Hodges’ transition team. 

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At City Hall, seven Council Members offered support for Jaymie, including Alondra Cano, Jacob Frey, Elizabeth Glidden, Cam Gordon, Blong Yang, and Andrew Johnson. Linea Palmisano was unable to attend, but sent a statement of support.

"Thank you for being here this snowy day, for the vision you've put together, for the hard work you've done,” said Council Member Alondra Cano, whose south Minneapolis ward includes Jaymie’s home. “You’re changing the conversation, changing the vision, changing what we can do at City Hall. I am committed to make sure we work with the Minneapolis Police Department, the sheriff, and the mayor's office, to make sure we're not wrongly using police resources to evict homeowners who are trying to negotiate with these big banks. This represents a shift to make sure our government is truly run by and for the people.”

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“We need our police officers resourced to peace and safety in our communities. We should not afford, nor should we condone, carrying out evictions on behalf of predatory lenders. These financial institutions have caused great harm to our people and our city, and we need to find a better way,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano in a statement.

County Commissioner Candidates Ben Schweigert and Marion Greene both called on the county not to use public resources for unjust evictions via the sheriff’s department. Jaymie remains in her home after two eviction attempts by Sheriff Stanek this fall. Now that the sheriff’s eviction is considered complete, her eviction is in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.

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"It was traumatic to have 30 sheriffs pounding up my stairs at 5 am on Election Day. They shattered my glass door and actually made my daughter walk barefoot across the broken glass,” said Jaymie Kelly. “We’re asking that the Minneapolis Police don't use police resources to evict homeowners. There's a different solution. The police are supposed to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis, not the banks. Before she was elected, our mayor expressed that she was not going to be using police resources to evict homeowners like me. There’s no reason we can’t create policy change right here and right now to save my home and thousands of others.”

“I want to make sure our officers are not accomplices to these injustices,” said Council Member Andrew Johnson. “It serves no one in our city when we're evicting homeowners who are out there, working hard to pay their bills, contributing to our community. We should not be spending any of our tax dollars tearing apart our community. We need to be spending our tax dollars to build it. I call on our police chief and our mayor to make unjust evictions our lowest priority.”

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