Tag Archives: ACORN Home Defenders

We Are Willing To Go To Any Means Necessary

On Wednesday I wrote a piece on Huffington Post and another at Open Left talking about the centrality of fixing the foreclosure crisis to any recovery from the economic meltdown. Since the toxic assets at the center of the meltdown are based on mortgages that are entering foreclosure at a rate of one every 13 seconds, we have to address foreclosure as a part of getting America back on its feet.

The Homeowner Affordability and Stabilization Plan (HASP), announced in Phoenix on Wednesday by President Obama, which will help up to an estimated 9 million families, is a good first step – and the first serious effort by the Federal government to confront the challenge. But just because there was an announcement does not lessen the urgency of the problem. We are still in a situation where four families every minute enter the foreclosure process. We believe there must be a moratorium on foreclosures until HASP is fully implemented.

So yesterday we at ACORN launched the Home Defenders campaign in seven cities – a campaign to force the question of moratoriums and to press the urgency of this crisis into the consciousness of elected officials on the state and national levels. This is a campaign of refusal and resistance, refusal by distressed homeowners to cooperate with the foreclosure process and resistance to attempts to evict them from their homes. And in some cases it is a campaign of getting people back into their homes.

I wanted to give everyone a report-back from our activities yesterday, which is in the extended text.

In Baltimore, ACORN member Donna Hanks re-took her home. Foreclosed on last Fall, the house has stood empty since then, a stark reminder of the failure of the system. But Donna joined with 30 ACORN Home Defenders to liberate her home from the bank. Her act of civil disobedience was covered by 2 radio stations, 2 TV stations, the Baltimore Sun, and the Huffington Post.

Donna used bolt cutters to break the lock to the door and re-enter the home. Unfortunately, in the six short months since the home was seized, it has been extensively damaged, essentially partially gutted. The toilets are missing, and the upstairs ceiling is badly damaged. The greatest tragedy here is that Donna worked for months with ACORN sister organization ACORN Housing Corporation to try to get the bank to modify the loan so it could be affordable, but they refused, taking the home and now allowing it to be a haven for squatters and a target of looters.

In Houston, where one in three homes sold in January was a foreclosure and foreclosure sales accounted for 34 percent of all homes sold – a 9-percent jump from the same time last year, Sara Chavez announced her refusal to leave here home. “My mother and I don’t leave,” she said.  A mother of three who cares for her sick mother, she has owned her house since 2004, but has seen her mortgage payment double from $1,000 to $2,000. She joined with ACORN Home Defenders to declare her neighborhoods a “Foreclosure Free Zone”. And the  Home Defenders backed her up. ACORN member Pennie Saldivar said, “We want to fix this problem. We are willing to go to any means necessary”.

We even had a little star power come out to help the campaign to keep hard working families in their homes. In Los Angeles, comedienne Roseanne Barr traveled to Watts to join with Tommy and Debora Beard. The Beards are a teacher assistant and hospital cook who have lived in their home for over 20 years and have lost it to foreclosure in part due to a predatory loan. There is a possibility that allies in the legal community may be able to extend the Beards’ eviction process for quite awhile to buy time get Chase to reverse the foreclosure, person after person (including Roseanne) pledged to “go to jail” with the Beards if necessary.

There are other reports from Oakland, New York, and Orlando.

Conservatives have made much of the fact that they think this campaign is really all about helping greedy and undeserving homeowners get a taxpayer bailout. Or they are itchy about the fact that keeping people in homes might involve breaking things like trespassing laws. Or they just plain froth at the mouth because we at ACORN are again standing up for working families.

On the last point, we sure hope they are drinking plenty of liquids because we’ve been doing this for 38 years and we aren’t going to stop just because it gives the people whose ideology led us into this catastrophe the vapors.

On the first two complaints, though, let me say two things. First, we all have skin in this game. This crisis is on a scale that rivals the Great Depression and foreclosures are at the heart of it. Whether you think the homeowners deserve it or not, creating a plan that gets these toxic mortgages performing again is the only way for people to agree on a value for the toxic assets clogging up the financial system.

Second, people are fed up seeing Wall Street get billions in help while the people bearing the brunt of the disaster get eviction notices. They are saying “enough is enough”. Like Pennie Salvidar says, families are willing to go to any means necessary to get elected officials to do the right thing.

This is a unique moment in history, one where we can steer the country away from the failures of conservative ideology and toward a fundamentally progressive approach to governing. As Mike Lux put it in the Huffington Post today: “The American family has to take care of each other, has to look out for each other, especially in the hard times, because the misery of our fellow citizens will spread to the rest of us.”

Right on.

This campaign is not just about helping hard working families keep their homes, it is fundamentally about saving the American Dream, about what makes us proud to call ourselves Americans, and about bit by bit making this country stronger.  

You can help by asking Congress not to give in to Wall Street and their coming attempts to block the most important aspects of HASP. If we want a new America we’re going to have to fight for it

Taking Action, Saving Homes, Starting the Recovery

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

It took me about 7 seconds to say that chant three times. Six seconds later another family in America entered the foreclosure process.

ACORN members know what that does to a family and to a community. So today, 300 ACORN members took over the Mitchell Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland singing and chanting as they overwhelmed the 20 or so sheriff’s deputies assigned to “protect” auctioneers from selling off foreclosed properties.

50 miles away in Washington, DC, another 120 took over two buildings on the same block where foreclosure auctions were being held.

In Baltimore, Donna Hanks, a foreclosure victim who lost her home a year ago – a home that still sits vacant in the bank’s hands today – led the action and later talked to film crews about the turmoil she is going through. “I’ve moved six times in the last year – and I have a steady, union job. Families that are losing their jobs are even worse off than I am. That’s why I came out today to help working people keep their homes.”

In Washington, ACORN members snuck into one auction disguised as prospective buyers and then joined in the protest as marchers appeared outside the building. One of the building owners, angered that his property was being used to facilitate foreclosures, kicked the auctioneer out and ACORN members proceeded to follow him around refusing to let him sell homes out from under families.

13 seconds goes by pretty fast. We’re talking four families every minute. It is no wonder that ACORN members are stiffening their spines, gritting their teeth, and fighting back in the face of the economic maelstrom engulfing the country. With Treasury Secretary Geithner announcing today the prospect of a $50 billion package of aid that addresses the crisis, we are heartened, but know that we need to take action now to keep hard-hit families in their homes and to keep pressure on our elected leaders to do the right thing.


Because it is one family every 13 seconds.

Today’s actions are the continuation of actions that ACORN members have been taking for weeks to keep families in their homes, including a coordinated Day of Action on January 15th, when members in over 25 cities blocked foreclosure actions.

As part of the campaign, ACORN members are in DC today for our annual Legislative and Political Conference talking with their Congressional representatives about the need for immediate action to get Americans back to work and save the homes of working families.

Next week we ratchet up the pressure. On February 19th, ACORN is launching the Home Defenders, a program that links members of local communities with families who have taken the courageous step of refusing to cooperate with the foreclosure process. It responds to the desperate calls for help made by one family every 13 seconds.

It echoes the sentiments of leaders like Toledo, Ohio-area Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who recently said, “stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don’t leave[.]”

The Home Defenders program is modeled on an ACORN action taken a week ago in Oakland, CA that saved the home of a West Oakland couple on the day of their eviction.

And we are partnering with the folks at Brave New Films in their launch of a new web-based resource for foreclosure victims and those in danger of foreclosure. Called Fighting For Our Homes, this is a way for people to have their own voice and tell their own stories about the foreclosure crisis – stories that show how real people and real neighborhoods are being affected.

If you want to join in the fight to get America back to work and end the foreclosure crisis in this country, you can join the Home Defenders, and sign this petition to President Obama asking for quick action. And visit Fighting For Our Homes to see foreclosure victims speaking for themselves.

Together we can get America back on her feet again.

Refusing To Be Evicted – Keeping Foreclosure Victims In Their Homes

Last week I showcased the plight of Rosa and Juan Rico in Oakland, CA. They had had so many problems working with their lender to get a modification of their loan that they joined with 40 ACORN members and moved themselves into a local branch of the bank in order to force the bank to deal with them.

They are but one of the 2.3 million families that faced foreclosure proceedings in 2008. And they are on the leading edge of a crisis that will claim up to 9 million more by 2013, costing the economy up to $850 billion, if we sit idly by, doing nothing about the root cause of the economic maelstrom that has engulfed our country.

Find out how some families are fighting back on the flip.

ACORN members like the Ricos have made the commitment to save their homes and rebuild their communities through civil disobedience. Today, I am proud to announce that we are launching a program that gives everyone an opportunity to help keep families in their homes and put pressure on our elected officials to address this root cause of the economic collapse.

Called the ACORN Home Defenders, this program links members of local communities with families who have taken the courageous step of refusing to cooperate with the foreclosure process. It responds to the desperate calls for help found in the grim foreclosure statistics and echoes the sentiments of leaders like Toledo, Ohio-area Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who recently said, “stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don’t leave[.]”

The urgency of this crisis demands immediate action. So the Home Defenders program is rolling out in two stages. The first stage will include eight “Tier 1” metro areas: Baltimore, MD; Contra Costa County, CA; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Orlando, FL and Tucson, AZ. Initial trainings for people located in these metro areas will take place during the second week in February, with kick-off events scheduled to occur during the 3rd week of the month.

The second stage will include 16 “Tier 2” metro areas: Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Bridgeport, CT; Broward County, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Durham, NC; Flint, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh, NC; San Mateo County, CA; and Wilmington, DE. Trainings and kick-off events will occur a few weeks after those in the Tier 1 cities.

New cities are continuing to join this campaign, so if you do not live near any of the metro areas listed above, you can still participate in actions to save the homes of families in your community as they come on-board. For people who live in areas that will not have local organizers helping drive this program, ACORN is creating Home Defender Tool-Kits that help you fight back against the crisis in your neighborhood.

I urge you to take this step in helping local families fight back against the crisis caused by reckless financiers who made billions in bonuses in equity-stripping schemes designed to set homebuyers up for failure.

By showing that communities are refusing to participate in their own decimation, we will force elected officials to finally shift their emphasis from bailing out Wall Street to bailing out Main Street.

Join with us. The good folks at Change.org have already taken one step by covering the announcement of the Home Defenders. Let’s all join together and keep families in their homes.