Friday the 13th this July was an unlucky day for 5/3 Bank—but not for Mary Bonelli and her friends in Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction. Mary’s family has lived at 2334 N. Mason for three generations—since 1921! And yet, banks have tossed the property around from bank to bank for many years—demanding payments to them for the right of the Bonelli family to live in a home she’s more than paid for by now. Mary was never late with a payment; yet, a few months ago, the latest bank to claim ownership over her house, 5/3 Bank, decided to foreclose on Mary’s home for no reason they care to discuss with her. She’s tried to meet with them, including one time where Mary, who has trouble walking, had to go far away from her house and neighborhood, wait three hours to meet with someone—only to be ignored and turned away!
Many people face the same nonsense as Mary does. But where many people feel foreclosures and evictions are their own problem, all alone—and a matter of shame and secrecy—Mary realizes that the shame does not lie with her, the homeowner—but with the banks whose predatory practices have created the current housing crisis all across the country. Mary got in touch with her friend, Sabrina Morey, of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, and together they organized the demonstration last Friday the 13th. We gathered at Mary’s house, about twenty of us, and marched the blocks from her house to 5/3 Bank at 2710 N Narragansett Ave in the Brickyard Mall. On our way, we waved our signs and chanted together “FIGHT!-FIGHT!-FIGHT!-FIGHT!—HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!” and “THE BANKS GOT BAILED OUT—WE GOT SOLD OUT!!” to the cheers of passersby and the honking support of passing cars. When we got to the bank, we stood on the sidewalk and continued to chant and cheer Mary on as she went in to see if the bank would finally talk to her about their arbitrary decision to foreclose on her home. The bank manager ignored Mary, as usual, until he realized the demonstrators outside that he was worried about were with her—and then, suddenly, he was quite willing to talk with Mary! He gave a promise to her that someone would call her on Monday. But whether 5/3 Bank follows through or not, Mary has friends! And we in Communities United are more than willing to come out to picket again—and again and again!—until Mary gets justice.
Mary’s story is many people’s stories—predatory banks wanting to steal your home—bank officials treating you as if they are doing you a favor to talk with you about how they are stealing from you—and many times ignoring you and breaking their promises. People all over the country are facing evictions and foreclosures—and this is WRONG!! Mary’s story will have a happier ending than many people’s now have—because she has refused to leave her home! And, she has called in the support of her friends and neighbors in Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction. Your stories, like hers, need to be told—for that’s the way the story can end happily—with you and your family in your home, and the banks far away! Get in touch with us here, and tell us your stories—and together, we’ll write a better ending than the banks want to write. YOU DESERVE TO LIVE IN YOUR HOME!! THE BAD ECONOMY IS NOT YOUR FAULT!! THE BANKS HAVE CREATED THIS HOUSING CRISIS—AND THE BANKS HAVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!! Remember: Housing Is A Human Right!
Write-up by Sid Prise from the Belmont Cragin chapter.