Sunday, January 22, 2012

Momentum Builds to Stop Home Foreclosures

The momentum is growing for a local campaign to stop Ann Lockwood from being evicted from her home.  Project Save Our Homes, a group that came out of the local Occupy movement, has been working with Ann for several weeks now trying to stop State Farm bank from foreclosing upon her home.

The group has already collected several hundred petition signatures by going door to door in Ann's neighborhood, and by tabling at public events across the Twin Ports.  The petition drive along has already resulted in some very positive news coverage from the Channel 6 Northland News and Fox 21 News.  And now an online petition has also been set up, allowing folks all over the country to sign on.

Ann was a healthcare worker who had an on the job injury.  After she got an infection from a surgery to correct the injury, one thing led to another, and by the end of her ordeal she had lost her leg and was left with over a million dollars in medical bills.  Not surprisingly, as a result of this medical catastrophe, Ann fell behind on her mortgage payments.

Project Save Our Homes contacted Ann when they saw a notice in the newspaper that she would be facing a sheriff sale on January 19.  Quick acting by the group resulted in the date of that sale being pushed back until June, giving time to organize a campaign on Ann's behalf.  The goal is to put pressure on the mortgage holder, State Farm Bank, to re-negotiate with Ann to come up with a payment plan that will meet her budget.

In addition to the ongoing petition drive, the group is going to be holding a feeder march to the Martin Luther Kind Day march in Duluth.  The plan is to gather at 10am at Ann's house (corner of 8th St. and 7th Ave. E.) where participants will be encouraged to give a videotaped message to State Farm Bank.  Then the group will march to the Washington Center (corner of 4th St. & Lake Ave.) to join the 11am MLK march to the Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center.

The group is also planning a big community forum titled "Save Our Homes - Stopping Home Foreclosures in the Northland".  This event will take place on Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30pm at the Pilgrim Congregational Church at 2310 E. 4th St.  The event will consist of a panel of speakers including Ann Lockwood and other local homeowners facing foreclosure, Dan Williams of Lutheran Social Services, Attorney Peter Greenlee, and Bret Thiele of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.  The goal of the event is to not only allow people like Ann to share their stories, but also to hold a wide ranging discussion about how foreclosures affect neighborhoods, and what we can all to stop them.  It's not fair that in the wake of the housing market collapse that the big banks have gotten bailed out, while working people are being made to foot the bill for a crisis they didn't create!

A measure of the support for this sentiment can be seen in the impressive list of groups that have endorsed the Feb. 1 community forum so far.  Here is a partial list of the endorsers of Jan. 15:

-Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
-Carlton County Central Labor Body
-Duluth Central Labor Body
-Superior Federation of Labor
-United Steelworkers Local 9460
-United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189
-Minnesotans for a Fair Economy
-Churches United in Ministry (CHUM)
-Loaves & Fishes Community
-Board of Church and Society, First Lutheran Church
-Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth (UUCD)
-Pax Christi Duluth
-One Roof Community Housing
-City of Duluth Human Rights Commission
-Twin Ports MoveOn Council
-Twin Ports Action Coalition
-Occupy Duluth-Superior
-Grandmothers for Peace
-Veterans for Peace

-Socialist Action
-Move to Amend
-Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights

> The article above was written by Adam Ritscher, and activist with Project Save Our Homes and United Steelworkers Local 9460.

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