Rose Guidel, Pasadena, CA

Rose missed a payment after her brother was shot and killed. Her pleas to the bank fell on deaf ears, and she found herself in danger of eviction. So she reached out to ACCE and decided to organize a home defense. After a long and well-publicized struggle to save her home from foreclosures, on October 6, 2011, Rose Gudiel announced to a crowd of 2000 supporters that she was being offered a loan modification.

A summary of Rose’s fight is excerpted from“Victory! Transforming Occupy Wall Street From a Moment to a Movement” by Peter Dreier, which appeared in the Huffington Post on October 7, 2011

“Today, participating in a rally and march in downtown LA, cosponsored by Occupy LA and union/community/faith coalition led by ACCE and SEIU, that attracted several thousand people, Gudiel announced the following:

“I’d like to announce that the bank called me today to arrange a meeting, to discuss a modification proposal from Fannie Mae. I have also learned that my eviction has been canceled. We are very happy that they have finally come to the table, and I hope they are serious about negotiating a reasonable modification, which is what I have been requesting for over two years. And I hope that they will change their policies to stop taking the homes the thousands of hardworking families facing preventable foreclosure. Thank you.”

Rose Gudiel, who juggles two jobs and lives with her parents and brother in a working-class suburb of Los Angeles, has become the public face of a burgeoning crusade to defend homeowners from unfair evictions. The 35-year old Gudiel belongs to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE, a group formed after the collapse of ACORN in California) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), organizations that have led the fight for bank reform in California. Their protests are rooted in the specific grievances of their mostly low-income and working-class members, who have been laid off, ripped off and evicted by banks engaged in predatory lending.

ACCE, SEIU and other California unions and community groups have been mobilizing homeowners since the beginning of the economic crisis. They’ve organized meetings with bank officials to try to get them to modify loans rather than foreclose on homeowners. When negotiations break down, the activists have resorted to protests and civil disobedience to draw attention to abusive practices and the banks’ failure to deal with homeowners in good faith.

Two years ago the Gudiel family missed one mortgage payment after her brother was killed and the family lost his income and Rose, a state government employee, lost some income because of state furloughs due to the state’s fiscal crisis. The family quickly recovered and wanted to resume making its mortgage payments, but OneWest Bank quickly began foreclosure proceedings rather than help modify the family’s mortgage.

Facing the possibility of eviction. Gudiel, her neighbors, co-workers and supporters from the ACCE and SEIU last week began a round-the-clock vigil at her house. They pledged to risk arrest if the LA County sheriff tried to evict them from her home after Fannie Mae and OneWest Bank issued a foreclosure notice. Gudiel’s story caught the imagination of the local news media Gudiel and her allies showed remarkable courage and defiance, as indicated in this video.

On Tuesday of this week, ACCE, SEIU, and other supporters protested at the $26 million Bel Air mansion of Steve Mnuchin, the CEO of OneWest Bank, based in Pasadena. I wrote about the disparity between Mnuchin’s wealth and Gudiel’s plight in Huffington Post three days ago. Mnuchin’s bank claimed that it no longer owned Gudiel’s mortgage but was simply servicing it on behalf of Fannie Mae.

So on Wednesday, ACCE, SEIU and Gudiel and other supporters occupied the Fannie Mae office in Pasadena. Gudiel and six others were arrested.

All this protest and publicity put LA County Sheriff Lee Baca in a bind. He obviously did not want to have to evict Gudiel and her family, including her disabled mother and her father (a warehouse worker). The prospect of his deputies hauling off Gudiel’s wheelchair-bound mother to jail didn’t sit well with the county’s top law enforcer. So he stalled for time, contacted OneWest and Fannie Mae, hoping these giant institutions would do the right thing and modify Gudiel’s mortgage so her family could stay in their home.

Now it appears that the Gudiel family will get their house back — and they owe their victory to the solidarity shown by their friends and neighbors, the months of hard work of ACCE, SEIU and their allies (particularly ACCE organizer Peter Kuhns), and the shifting political climate triggered by the new Occupy Wall Street activists.”

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