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.”

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Cat Salonek published this page in News 2012-07-16 22:56:13 -0500