Hundreds of Californians were at the forefront of a national campaign launched yesterday to challenge the Wall Street profiteering that created the housing and economic crisis. Kicked-off with actions nationwide on December 6, “Occupy Our Homes,” is building momentum in the fight against foreclosures and evictions and fueling a growing consensus that banks should write down the mortgage principal for underwater homes as an essential step to fix the economy. California has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country, and widespread mortgage principal reduction would save tens of thousands of California homes, pump $20 billion per year into California’s economy and create 300,000 jobs.
Empowered by recent efforts by consumers and communities to stand up against unfair and predatory practices by big banks, homeowners in six cities across California were back by ACCE as they engaged in direct action to “reclaim” houses that banks have left vacant and to stop banks from foreclosing, evicting and profiting further from the economic crash they created. Backed by hundreds of community members, local families in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Oakley, San Jose, and San Diego pledged to fight wrongful foreclosure and eviction at all costs, and in some cases, moved furniture back into their vacant, foreclosed homes. Nationwide, 45 home defenses occurred in 28 cities, highlighted the struggles of over 50 homeowners. Major events took place in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Portland and Minneapolis, backed by a national network of organizations including The New Bottom Line and its local affiliates; New York Communities for Change, SOUL (Chicago), Occupy Wall Street and Take Back the Land. The movement is continuing to grow. Supporters that haven't already are invited to take the pledge in "Defense of our Homes and Neighborhoods" by clicking here.
A bus and a caravan full of people supported Arturo De Los Santos of Riverside who reclaimed his home after being wrongfully evicted by Chase Bank. Arturo and members of members of Occupy Los Angeles and ACCE, moved his family’s furniture from a U-Haul back into his family’s home. Supporters set up tents in Arturo’s yard to support him in his fight and the family prepared soup for supporters. Arturo, his wife, and his four children announced that they are here to stay.
Arturo De Los Santos stands with his daughter outside his reclaimed home.
Over 100 people gathered at the home of Ana Casas Wilson of Southgate as she and her mother and father shared the story of fighting to keep the home they have lived in since 1975. Several neighbors spontaneously joined the rally saying "this could be any of us." Ana has an eviction order and has announced to her bank that she is refusing to leave.
San Francisco: Dozens of people rallied in support of Denise Collins, a local school bus driver is facing eviction on January 2nd after being refused a mortgage modification, even though she can still afford to make monthly payments. Denise and a group of home defenders signed a pledge to defend the home her father built. See VIDEO below or by clicking here
Oakland: For the first time nationally, a group of home defenders was successful in preventing the auction of foreclosed homes. The group, which included members of Occupy Oakland, the Home Defense League and ACCE, marched to the steps of the county courthouse where more than a dozen Oakland homes are sold at auction every day and chanted “shame on you” and “stop the sale.”
The home defenders then marched to the home of Gayla Newsome, a West Oakland mother of three to support her as she reclaimed her foreclosed home from Chase Bank, which evicted her family from the home when Gayla was at work.
Oakley: Tony Amador of Oakley, supported by the coalition of home defenders, pledged to defend his home from foreclosure and eviction. Amador was laid off from his job as a mechanic in 2008 and has since suffered from two strokes. “I refuse to give them my home,” he said.
San Jose: Over 30 members of Occupy San Jose, Occupy Redwood City, local unions, and ACCE rallied in front of the home of Gloria Takla, a 72 year old resident who is facing foreclosure. Gloria and the home defenders marched to the local Chase Bank and successfully demanded that her home sale date be postponed, and that she have the opportunity to modify her loan.
San Diego: A group of over 50 mistreated homeowners and supporters chanted “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out” and pledged to defend their homes from foreclosure.