Foreclosure Holiday press conference almost evicted

Good coverage by Karen Schaefer, with pictures, at WKSU this morning.

WCPN this morning. Plain Dealer Monday. AP.

Over forty people representing at least seventeen of the twenty endorsing organizations showed up at Tina William’s house on East 112th yesterday morning. Mrs. Williams, a member of the Mount Pleasant chapter of ACORN, had her Chase-financed house taken at Sheriff’s sale in September — by HUD, which had insured the mortgage. Her eviction was originally scheduled for yesterday, but last week ACORN managed to get HUD and Chase to agree to a sixty-day stay, which will allow HUD to take title and, she hopes, work out a deal to let her stay as a tenant.

Despite the stay, moving trucks rolled up to the Williams’ door yesterday while we were clearing snow for the press conference, followed shortly by a Sheriff’s deputy with a vacate order in his hand. It seems nobody at Chase had told the Sheriff’s Office about the stay they’d agreed to. For twenty minutes it looked like the coalition to forestall evictions was going to get evicted, along with the Williams family.

But frantic calls were made, a fax got sent to the Sheriff, the deputy got the word, and he got in his car and led the moving trucks away amid cheers and applause.

Not a bad start for a gathering to call for a Foreclosure Holiday.

Here’s the open letter to County Sheriff Gerald McFaul that was released at the press conference (and subsequently delivered to his office). Excerpts:

It’s now one week until Christmas Eve and two weeks until New Year’s Eve. There are Sheriff’s sales scheduled today, on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. According to data on your website, over 650 foreclosed properties are scheduled for these three sales — over 230 on Christmas Eve alone.

As a result of these sales, hundreds more houses will be vacated and boarded in our neighborhoods in the next nine days, and hundreds of our neighbors who haven’t yet left their foreclosed homes will face eviction by Sheriff’s Office personnel.

This must come to a halt. Somebody has to start putting on the brakes.

The “subprime freeze” recently announced by the White House will do nothing to slow the current deadly assault on our community. The U.S. Congress has yet to pass any legislation that will help. The Governor’s efforts to help have so far been stymied by the unwillingness of major lenders and servicers to cooperate.

Which leaves the people of this community on our own, in dire need of immediate, courageous leadership from our own public officials. We are here to ask for that leadership – right now, today, before this troubled year comes to an end…

So today we’re here to join in signing an open letter asking you to immediately declare a Foreclosure Holiday for the next sixty days.

We ask you to delay foreclosure proceedings against owner-occupants and occupied rental properties for the next sixty days — to take them off the Sheriff’s sale lists, or cancel the sales altogether. And we ask you to cancel all foreclosure evictions for the same Foreclosure Holiday period.

Sixty days. That’s what we’re asking.

Let people stay in their homes through the holidays and the beginning of the new year.

Let our entire community catch its breath and take the time to help the courts, other county leaders and your office come up with more permanent solutions.

And help us send a strong signal to the mortgage banks and servicers, whose “business as usual” is driving our community deeper into crisis every week, that business as usual will no longer be automatically enabled by this community’s leaders.

(c/p CCD 12/18/07) 

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