On Wednesday February 19, Home Defenders League members delivered petitions signed by over 2,000 people to Wells Fargo branches around the country, urging the bank not to foreclose on Lavinia Curry, an 86 year old Grandmother in Irvington, NJ.
Despite being the most profitable US bank in 2013, Wells Fargo has continued to foreclose on struggling homeowners, instead of working with families to keep them in their homes. The latest victim, Lavinia Curry, purchased her Irvington, NJ home in 2003 with the help of her daughter Paulette. In 2010, the family missed ONE mortgage payment, but attempted to make the missed payment the very next month. Wells Fargo refused to accept the payment and began the process of foreclosure instead. A sheriff's sale of the family's home is scheduled for next month.
With the help of New Jersey Communities United, the family launched a petition on start2.occupyourhomes.org that quickly gained over 2,000 signatures. "We have the money to pay, but Wells Fargo refused to accept it," said Ms. Curry's daughter Paulette McQueen, who has been leading the fight to save her mother's home. "For more than three years, we've been battling the bank to save our house so our mother can live out the rest of her years with dignity and respect in the place our family calls home. Wells Fargo needs to do right by our family."
In response, home defenders in multiple cities-- including Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, and Orlando-- held small demonstrations and delivered copies of the petitions to local Wells Fargo branches in solidarity with a similar protest that took place in Irvington. The city of Irvington has been particularly hard hit by foreclosures, leaving 47% of all homeowners underwater on their mortgages according to Zillow. This has led the city to to consider using eminent domain as a way to provide principal reduction, following the lead of Richmond, CA.
The actions were organized through a monthly training call, and represent the growing number of homeowners and community members who are calling for more solutions to the housing crisis, and for banks like Wells Fargo to reduce principal and offer affordable modifications that would provide permanent relief and keep struggling families in their homes. The calls- held on the first Wednesday of each month- cover topics related housing justice and train participants on how to launch their own home defense campaigns and organize against Wall Street in their communities.