Occupy Movement Focuses On Foreclosures
Earlier this month, the Occupy Movement called for a nationwide day of action called 'Occupy Our Homes.' The movement has been protesting across the entire country on foreclosure, unemployment, massive pay gaps between the highest-paid and lowest-paid in America, and more. In 25 cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Denver, New York, Miami, Atlanta and others, hundreds of foreclosed homes were occupied by the former owners and Occupy protesters.
Occupying these foreclosed home is just the latest step taken by the Occupy Movement. It has now migrated from city parks to actual neighborhoods and their foreclosed, abandoned homes. According to RealtyTrac, one of the largest companies that track foreclosures, housing auctions and bank owned homes, approximately 1.38 million U.S. Homes are in the foreclosure process.
Art de los Santos, of Riverside, was foreclosed on in June of this year. He found out about the Occupy Our Homes movement and contacted the Occupy Los Angeles chapter. Together, they decided to re-enter his home on December 6, 2011. De Los Santos said, “The bank is either going to work with me on loan modification or it will have to get the police to throw me out.”
According to De los Santos, he now makes enough money on his job to afford his original mortgage payments. His current salary also now qualifies him for a loan modification. But, the bank denied his most recent loan modification application, with no real reasons given. The bank put the house up for auction, but it didn't sell. This is when he started considering reoccupying his old home.
The state of California has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the United States. According to RealtyTrac, 55,132 housing units were foreclosed on in October of 2011 alone. That represents 1 in 243 housing units.
The 'Occupy Our Homes' movement gained some notoriety in November. Minneapolis resident, Monique White, asked her local Occupy movement chapter for assistance in occupying her home. She made this decision as soon as she learned the bank was about to foreclose on it. A short film was produced to show her efforts to save her home from foreclosure. In the film, she says, “I didn't realize it was going to be this hard.”
Relief for the Holidays
Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) have both vowed to halt foreclosures between December 19, 2011 through January 2, 2012. Terry Edwards, a VP for Fannie Mae, said in a statement, “No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season.”
Chase and Wells Fargo have also agreed to allow their delinquent homeowners to enjoy the holidays in their homes. They will cease foreclosures from December 22, 2011 to January 2, 2012. While Bank of America's statement is not a “giving”, they have made a subtle promise to,“avoid foreclosure sales or displacement of homeowners or tenants around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.'
These holiday promises could bring a sigh of relief to the Occupy Our Homes participants. They can now feel more secure to enjoy their Christmas and New Year's celebrations without having to worry about the Marshall coming to their door to evict them. They can spend the next weeks saving money and praying for a holiday miracle. You never know. They just may get one that will help them save their homes and get them out of foreclosure. But, they better be ready for a fight, because come January 2, 2012, the lenders will get right back to the business at hand, foreclosing on distressed property owners.