Twin Vigils in Hyde Park and Chelsea, Anti-Foreclosure Canvassing this Weekend

On Thursday, March 22, City Life Vida Urbana and the Chelsea Collaborative will hold two vigils in support of families who have are being forced out of their homes by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who have refused to reduce principal for underwater borrowers and regularly evict homeowners, even when they can afford to stay. Join us to support Lavette, Inocencia, and Mirna in their fight to keep their homes, and join our allies in the fight against foreclosure to say NO to punitive evictions!

Vigil in Hyde Park for Lavette Sealls
Thursday, March 22, 6-7 pm
19A Business Terrace, Hyde Park
Contact: Steve Meacham, 617524-3541 x310 or cell 617-909-6182
Brandon German 617-584-1468

Stop the evictions of the families of Inocencia Perez & Mirna Aguilar
Chelsea Collaborative – Speak Out to Take Back the Neighborhood from Wall Street Banks.
Thursday, March 22, 5-7 pm
79 Grove St, Chelsea
Contact: Eliza Parad, 617-889-6080 x112

Anti-foreclosure Canvassing in Malden with the North Side Bank Tenants Association
Saturday, March 24, 10am – 1 pm
Bread of Life, 54 Eastern Ave in Malden
Meet up at Bread of Life for a light breakfast and a quick training, then head out into the neighborhoods to reach out to those directly affected by the foreclosure crisis. We have a long list, and need all the help we can get! RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/253376834756625/ or email katie@occupyboston.org

The following op-ed is written by Lavette Sealls, whose family has been trying to negotiate with Freddie Mac to modify her mortgage more than 2 years. In the last 6 months Boston Community Capital (BCC – a non-profit lender) submitted two offers to buy this property. Their intention was to resell to Lavette at current value. The Sealls family is qualified to buyback, but Freddie Mac refused to negotiate.

On Thursday evening when most people are going home to dinner and their families, I’ll be fighting my eviction.

I moved to this condo in Hyde Park in 2007. I have worked all my life outside the home since I was 18, and I have been a single parent of two sons since 1990. It was my dream to own my own home and I worked hard to make this dream come true. I had been a life-long renter, but finally at the age of 49, I achieved the American Dream of finally owning my own home. Unfortunately, my timing could not have been worse. A year after I purchased my first home, the economy crashed, brought to its knees by greedy investors and predatory lenders. I was left with a home that I had paid $250,000 for and it is now worth almost $60,000 less than that.

At around this time, I experienced a personal tragedy that made it hard for me to keep up with my mortgage payments. I was also trying to keep my son in college. The financial pressures proved too much, so I went to the bank to try to negotiate a lower monthly payment. I completed two modification packages, which they did not reply to. Five months later, the bank foreclosed on my property.

I felt totally defeated. After so many years of playing by the rules, being a good citizen
and a good parent, I felt like my whole world was collapsing around me. It would have
meant a lot if the bank would at least talk to me, but they refused. This was a bank
(Freddie Ma and Fannie Mae) that received $120 billion in taxpayer bailout money, and here they were treating me — a long-time taxpayer – as if I didn’t exist.

I might have given up, but an organization named City Life/Vida Urbana canvassed my
neighborhood, letting residents know that there were ways to fight for your home. With
help from City Life, I wasn’t alone. With their support, I began to fight back.

Meanwhile my home’s value had plummeted. The bank wouldn’t do a principal reduction with me, but they sold it to Freddie Mac for $192,000. Why were they okay taking theloss with Freddie but not willing to take a second chance with me?

I’ve lived in Hyde Park for 20 years. I love Hyde Park, and I felt committed to staying in my home. I approached a non-profit bank, Boston Community Capital, and they agreed that I was creditworthy and that they would make an offer to buy my home from Freddie Mac and sell it back to me. We are blessed to have non-profit agencies like this that help keep qualified people like me in their homes, thus keeping communities and families intact.

But Freddie Mac refused both of BCC’s offers. Maybe they thought BCC was not
offering enough? No. The reason they refused the offers was purely punitive. They did
not want BCC to sell the house back to me. Here we have a mostly taxpayer-funded
agency that appears to be more intent on making me homeless than on simply offloading a property to a willing buyer. Shouldn’t we demand more of our government? Shouldn’t an agency like Freddie Mac be doing its best to keep me in my home paying a fair price? When the economy crashed and the banks teetered on the verge of failure, the government stepped in to rescue them. That is to say, “we” (as taxpayers) stepped in to rescue them. I’m not asking to be rescued. I’m just asking to stay in my home and pay a fair price for the privilege.

So that is why on Thursday evening, I will be standing alongside City Life members and
concerned community members to make a public statement that we won’t stand by while government agencies like Freddie Mac punish homeowners, weaken our communities, and steal our dreams.

Lavette Sealls is a 55-year old mother of two and grandmother of one. She is a member of City Life/Vide Urbana, and she invites you to Business Terrace in Hyde Park for a vigil at her home on Thursday, March 22 from 6:00 to 7:00.

 

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