Activists, Politicians Join Forces to Fight Another Foreclosure | News
Another small but important victory Monday in the fight to keep Minnesota homes from falling into foreclosure. At an eviction hearing, politicians and government agencies lined up to help a North Minneapolis woman save her house. As a result, she won some more time to settle her case with her lenders.
Fresh off their successful effort last Monday to save a South Minneapolis man's home, the group Occupy Homes Minnesota now has city council members, state legislators and even the Minnesota Attorney General joining forces with them. They say they'll fight the banks one house at a time until they can affect widespread change.
Outside Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's office Monday evening, demonstrators placed a colorful sign on the floor, asking for the mayor to put his signature on a petition in support of one of his constituents, Monique White, to help save her home. Said one of the sign makers, Liz Dahl, "What happened to her is what happened to a lot of americans. The economy tanked."
The mayor hasn't signed the petitions but thousands of others have, including seven city council members like the 9th Ward''s Gary Schiff. "What we really need is for the bank to come back to the table," Schiff said.
White is just one woman-- with two sons and two part time jobs -- trying to keep her home by re-negotiating her mortgage, reducing it just a few hundred dollars a month. Before she was laid off from her full-time position as a counselor, it was no problem. But now, it's a big problem. "They won't work with me," she said of U.S. Bank, and Freddy Mac. "I'm not asking for a hand out. I'm just asking them to give me time, meet me halfway."
Today, a judge did just that. She's been given a reprieve until Friday, because some big guns have stepped up to bat for her. According to Schiff, "Attorney General Lori Swanson wants to investigate potential mortgage fraud in this case."
Added Nick Espinosa, the organizer of Occupy Homes Minnesota, "To make sure there was no wrong-doing, no illegal activity."
Congressman Keith Ellison and State Rep. Bobby Joe Champion have also joined the fight, and they'll all be plotting their legal strategy over the course of the next few days. That's when Monique's case will go back to court, this time to trial, in front of a jury of her peers.
Five Eyewitness News has profiled Monique's case several times, prompting email after email from others in the Twin Cities who have shared similar struggles to keep their homes. "I think it's really a one by one situation right now," Schiff said. "But what comes across loud and clear is that the city of Minneapolis is sending a message to the banks that we don't need any more vacant homes."
Schiff says more than 800 homes in Minneapolis are currently boarded up and condemned. Monique White is determined that hers won't be among them. "There's too much history there. I've raised my kids there. I will do what i need to do in order to keep my home."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org