November 5, 2014; NPR
As the foreclosure crisis swept the nation in 2007 and 2008, even before politicians and many in the press seemed to grasp the event, the issue seemed overwhelming. This author conducted a review of potential responses from the field operations of a national nonprofit community development intermediary and found the intermediary’s field staff largely daunted by the enormity of the problem, unable to figure out what they, at the city level, and the nonprofit community development corporations (CDCs) they funded could really do about the cataclysm of foreclosures that was undoing years or even decades of community development progress in some neighborhoods.
However, in the wake of the Occupy movement, the largely volunteer sui generis movement that popped up in communities across the nation following the Zuccotti Park takeover by protesters in 2011, some Occupy offshoots took on individual foreclosures, helping individual homeowners fend off banks and sheriffs who moved on their properties. For example, Occupy Fights Foreclosures, apparently affiliated with Occupy Los Angeles, has four stories of individual foreclosures that have sparked Occupy intervention. While each case has its distinctive elements, they are all personal, such as this case of Harolyn Rhue:
Harolyn is a disabled woman who survived a traffic accident when a drunk driver ran a red light. After the tragic event, Harolyn managed to pick herself up, went to school, and got a masters degree. After many sacrifices, Harolyn bought a home, worked for a bank, and designed clothing for disabled people. Unfortunately, she was taken advantage of her disabilities and was given a predatory loan. Wells Fargo has refused to work with her after her payments kept rising. Ms. Rhue was always responsible and paid her mortgage on time. When the payments got higher, she notified Wells Fargo and asked over 10 times for a loan modification. In August of last year, while awaiting for a review of her loan modification, Wells Fargo sold her home behind her back to an investor and now she is facing eviction. Wells Fargo refuses to take responsibility for what they did to Ms. Rhue. She now has turned to Occupy Fights Foreclosures to help her fight Wells Fargo’s wrongful foreclosure and pending eviction. Harolyn’s story is a mirror of countless of other homeowners that have been victimized by their bank’s greed. On January 4th, 2013, Ms. Rhue filed a formal complaint with H.U.D. for discriminatory housing practices by her lender, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. During our initial investigation, we have noticed some very serious violations of the foreclosure process and documentation. On May 30, 2013, Ms. Harolyn Rhue was wrongfully evicted from her home by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. They violated Harolyn’s bankruptcy stay and kicked this disabled homeowner out to the streets.