Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saving families from foreclosure and eviction by banksters

While we are enjoying our holiday with family in a lovely cottage in Shell Beach, low-income families are being foreclosed and evicted illegally by unscrupulous banksters. Please hold Dede and others like her in your prayers. We are grateful for groups like Occupy Fights Foreclosure that are standing in solidarity with these families. Sadly, our local newspaper didn't see fit to print anything about these families when they showed up at the Pasadena City Council. We sent this op ed piece to the Pasadena Star News (which supported Romney) and were ignored.

Dear Editor,
We were disappointed to see your front page story feature only the Pasadenans who went to the City Council with a concern about the NFL coming to the Rose Bowl (Nov 20, 2012). What your reporters ignored were those of us who came to the City Council concerned about how low income families are being kicked out of their homes illegally by banks, even here in Pasadena.

Take, for instance, our friend and neighbor, Deirdra Duncan, a Pasadena native and foster care mother of five developmentally disabled siblings, ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old. Dede is an officer in her church and a committed advocate for her neighborhood.

According to Lydia Breen, a member of Occupy Fights Foreclosure who came to the City Council meeting, Dede lived as a tenant at 35 W. Howard until October 19 when an investor obtained the house under suspicious circumstances from Bank of New York Mellon. He proceeded to illegally evict Dede, allegedly using inflammatory racist language against Dede and intimidation tactics against the children – threatening to have them sent back to the foster care system. The police sided with the investor during the eviction, stating he held a deed.

But as we know from the recent $120 million settlement against Wells Fargo, fraud in the home mortgage system has been rampant. A court case is pending on the foreclose. It is the duty of the police to remain neutral in civil affairs. They are not in a position to document the validity of a deed in light of the robo signing and other massive fraud in the system.

Occupy Fights Foreclosures came to the City Council to testify that they have seen a sharp rise in physical abusive and intimidation tactics used by investors, realtors and property mangers. They've seen police break into homes in riot gear to evict 80 year old women. They've seen the mother of a severely disabled child thrown out on the street and a woman yanked out of the house by force in her nightgown.

A woman who cares for children whose parents can’t or won’t care for them deserves our respect and support. She deserves to remain in the city where she was born, where her children go to school. Dede is a strong woman. Yet she is a victim of the fraud that is part of the business model of the financial industry.

As Lydia Breen pointed out, there is essentially no Section 8 housing in Pasadena. The city’s own website offers no rental units in the city within Dede's price range. If Dede leaves, she will be one more African American forced out of the city – a city that has already seen a 24% decline in the black population between 2000 – 2010.

We ask that the city direct the Pasadena Police Department to place a moratorium on evictions from foreclosed homes until the courts and the County Recorders Office find a way to clean out the massive amount of fraudulent deeds and other mortgage documents sitting on its shelves.

Surely a City that can afford to spend millions on the Rose Bowl can insure that its low-income citizens, especially those of color, are treated with dignity and fairness.

Lydia Breen and Dr. Jill Shook, 23-year resident of Pasadena and author of "Making Housing Happen," a book about faith-based affordable housing models.

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