What: Press conference announcing homeowner will be occupying her foreclosed home
Where: 2029 S. 17th Ave, Broadview, IL
When: 6:30pm on Thursday, December 8
On Thursday, December 8, Sherri Norris–joined by neighbors facing foreclosure, Communities United Against Foreclosure And Eviction, and activists from Occupy Chicago–will announce that she is occupying her foreclosed home. After U.S. Bank misled her and the courts have told her that she has to move, Sherri decided to do the opposite. She wants to stay in her home in Broadview, IL, and she is calling on her neighbors and allies to support her in that fight.
In a story familiar to many African American and Latino borrowers, Sherri was given a predatory loan by U.S. Bank. She bought her home in 1998 with a $29,000 mortgage and made monthly payments of $350 on time for 5 years. She then refinanced with U.S. Bank for $78,000 in May 2003, and paid $800 each month for five more years. Then, her mother died in May of 2008, and her son was born three months later. After paying nearly $70,000 over 10 years, Sherri suddenly faced new financial troubles–just as the national economic crisis was beginning and the housing bubble burst. U.S. Bank–who around this time received $6.6 billion in federal bailouts–promised to work with her through the hardship, suggesting loan modifications. However, they required her to pay thousands of dollars upfront each time she began a trial period for her loan modification. These modifications cost her a total of $14,000 over and above the original $70,000, and produced no change in her $800 monthly mortgage payments.
In early 2010, Sherri turned to President Barack Obama’s Making Home Affordable Modification Program. One morning she called U.S. Bank to ask about the documents she had sent over two weeks earlier, only to be told that her house had been put up for sale that morning. At the auction, since nobody else bought it, U.S. Bank bought back the property for $33,000 dollars. Sherri had paid more than double that amount before she missed her first payment, and U.S. Bank had asked for half of that amount from Sherri just so she could participate in the loan modification trial periods.
After fighting for her home in court, she was told that there were no other options. This forced Sherri to take a course of action chosen by many across the country: occupy. Like other homeowners in Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, Sherri has decided not to let her house become another vacant property on the block. And so she’s turning to her neighbors, Occupy Chicago activists, and, Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction.
“My family and I have been living in this property for 13 years now, and we are not planning to leave any day soon. I’m not moving. I love my neighborhood,” wrote Sherri in her letter to the bank. “This means we will not let anyone evict us from our home.”
Sherri’s announcement is a part of two weeks of events around the fight for housing in Chicago, “From Foreclosed to Occupied: Communities Unite for Housing Rights,” coordinated by Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction.
The other events include:
- A call-in and write-in campaign launched Nov. 23 by supporters of two families who are featured in YouTube videos demanding that banks work with them – rather than throwing them out on the street. The home of Maria Dolores Calvillo goes to auction December 5th, and Arturo Martinez and Remedios Sanchez were told they would be evicted the day after Thanksgiving.Videos about each family ask viewers to contact the banks that are foreclosing on the homeowners, and tell the banks to work with the families this holiday season.
- A Dec. 6 housewarming event for a family that has taken over an abandoned building in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. “I believe what we are doing is right, because people need a place to live,” says Sabrina Morey, one of those who recently moved into the building. “There should be no vacant homes anywhere.” Part of a national day of action coordinated with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Our Homes.