Mary Bonelli and 70 neighbors and allies hold vigil against 5/3rd Bank and Fannie Mae

Mary Bonelli on her porch with supporters from the neighborhood and the Albany Park Theater Project. Image from Ellyn Fortino for Progress Illinois.

This last Wednesday, the 16th of January of this new year, 2013, Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction continued its fight to keep Mary Bonelli in her home.  Though Mary’s family has lived in the house on 2334 N. Mason since 1921, and has never been late with a payment, the Fannie Mae corporation is trying to throw her out into the street this winter!  Through a computer error (no fault of Mary’s), Fannie Mae failed to process a payment on time—and this has led the bank to foreclose on Mary.

But Mary has refused to go!  She called her friend Sabrina Morey of Communities United last year, and learned that many homeowners are facing the same attacks on their homes by fraudulent banks—and that together, we can fight back!  January 16th was the day her house officially went on the Sheriff’s eviction list—along with some TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND OTHER HOMES IN CHICAGO!  More than 70 friends came out to support Mary in her press conference, declaring loud and proud that she intends to STAY IN HER HOME!  People from all generations—children as young as five years old—students from high schools and colleges in Chicago—young actors from Albany Park Theater Project—homeowners who had fought for their homes in the past and some continuing to fight—and volunteers of all ages from Communities United came out, too, holding signs in Spanish and English, and holding candles for the vigil.  It was a wonderful event!  And it’s just the latest in a series of actions we will continue to organize—not stopping until Mary’s home is taken off the eviction list, and restored  to its rightful owner—Mary Bonelli and her family!

We will continue to update you about Mary’s case, and what you can do to help.  And, if you find yourself attacked by predatory mortgages and crooked banks, too—don’t give up your home—FIGHT BACK!  Contact us today—and join Mary Bonelli, and many, many others around Chicago, the country, and the world who are demanding, in one voice:


Some news coverage of the vigil:

And sign Mary’s petition!

Candlelight vigil to halt Mary Bonelli’s eviction from home of three generations

What: Vigil to stop eviction of Mary Bonelli
When: Wednesday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: In front of Mary’s home, 2334 N Mason Avenue

Seventy-six-year-old Mary Bonelli will be put on the sheriff’s eviction list tomorrow, despite the fact that her home foreclosure resulted from a bank error. In response, community members will hold a candlelight vigil to call for a halt to her eviction and the modification of her mortgage to reflect the home’s current market value.

Time is running out for Mary Bonelli, whose Belmont-Cragin home has been in her family for three generations.

Bonelli and her elderly sister, who took out a new mortgage to pay for repairs to the home in 2008, first went into foreclosure in spring 2011. Both women are on a fixed income, and the foreclosure was triggered when Fifth Third Bank’s online payment system failed to deduct a payment. By the time they realized the problem, the sisters were told it was too late. They then hired lawyers, who charged $2,500 up front before eventually dropping the case. Though foreclosures often take years to go through the courts, Bonelli’s went through in a matter of months.

Tomorrow, with support from her neighbors and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, Bonelli will announce that she plans to continue occupying her foreclosed home, even if the sheriff comes to evict her. Bonelli is disabled and has difficulty walking, but says she plans to stand up for her home and the community she’s lived in all her life.

“I have no place else to go, and moving would be a nightmare for me. To see all the hard work that three generations of my family have put into our home slip away because of the bank’s mistake would be devastating,” she says.

Bonelli’s house has been sold to government-backed mortgage lender Fannie Mae. Last month, she and four other Chicago families facing eviction by Fannie Mae demonstrated in front of the agency’s regional headquarters in hopes of securing a meeting. Supporters have also been calling into the office of Fannie Vice President Kristy Williams Fercho to ask for a negotiation, but have so far received no response.

Bonelli’s predicament is an all-too-common one. Together, Fannie and Freddie control more than half of all home mortgages and over 90% of newly-issued mortgages. These institutions hold enormous influence over the housing market, and have made the foreclosure crisis worse by denying principal reductions, then evicting families from their homes, only to hold vacant properties for months on end.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have received a bailout of more than $150 million to remain solvent” says Sabrina Morey, a member of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction and Bonelli’s neighbor. “The taxpayers own and fund them, yet they’re evicting elderly people who have been working and paying taxes all their lives.”

Mary Bonelli and neighbors outnumber 5/3 Bank

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.

From Foreclosed to Occupied: Liberating Homes for the Holidays

When: 10am, December 6th
Where: Riis Park (the north-east corner of Narragansett Ave. and Fullerton Ave)

Sabrina More, 34 and her sister Samantha have between them seven kids. After moving several times and being ineligible for any housing assistance, they, with the help and collaboration of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, have decided to occupy an empty single family home in Belmont-Craigin. Belmont Craigin has the second highest number of foreclosures in the city of Chicago. While the banks steal homes from people, unemployment and growing poverty has made it harder for ordinary people to keep a roof over their heads. Foreclosures and evictions have torn apart our communities and contributed to the 174,000 vacant homes in Chicago. We see them everywhere! Further, our so-called political leaders put the greedy bankers and the rich–the same people who caused this mess–before those in need. Sabrina and Samantha and their children deserve to a place to live. We call on activists and community members to support them as they fight for the HUMAN RIGHT TO HOUSING by reclaiming an empty home. Why should there be housing insecurity when so many houses sit empty?

Join us Tuesday, December 6th as part of a national day of action aimed at blocking evictions, resisting foreclosures, and reclaiming abandoned and empty properties. We will gather at Riis Park and then march to Sabrina and Samantha’s newly liberated home!

“I believe what we are doing is right because people need a place to live. There should be no vacant homes anywhere.” Sabrina More

For more information:
Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction
Sabrina (english) 815.243.1984
Chris (english) 847.226.5302
Lily (espanol) 773.759.2155
Silvia (espanol) 773.664.2878

**in conjunction with National Day of Action to Resist and Reverse Foreclosures**

Press Conference Celebrating a Housing Victory!

Thursday! Jueves! 11am

2221 N. Latrobe Ave.

Press conference to celebrate the victory of the Tellez-Baca family in reclaiming their home from the bank and to tell people: “Don’t move, stay in your homes, and fight for the human right to housing!”

Te invitamos a la conferencia de prensa para celebrar la victoria de la familia Tellez-Baca (en la lucha para conservar su casa) y para decir la gente: No te muevas! Pelea por tu casa! Y lucha por el derecho a la vivienda para todos y todas!–con las y los oradoras y oradoros maravillos@s como Yessenia Yaritza Tellez y Rory Fanning y mas!

Celebrate the Tellez Family’s Victory!

Join us Thursday, Nov. 3 at 11am at 2221 N. Latrobe Ave. for a press conference and celebration of the Tellez family’s victory. A year ago, they lost their home to the bank, and a judge told them they had 30 days to leave.

Modification attempts had failed; lawyers would not take on their case; and the bank would not respond to their pleas.

But, they refused to accept the court order to leave their home. They organized with other community members, brought the bank to the negotiating table and won back their house.

Belmont Cragin: Tocando Puertas y las Reuniones

We’ll be knocking on doors October 8th and 15th. Meet at 5217 W. Altgeld St. at 11am for a debrief. Call Lily (773.759.2155) for more info.

Community meeting on October 22nd at 11am at 2221 N. Latrobe Ave to celebrate the victory of the Tellez family’s fight to stay in their home and to discuss how we can collectively fight to enforce the human right to housing for all!

Vamos a tocar puertas 8 y 15 de Octubre. Reúna a 5217 W. Altgeld St. a las 11am. Para mas información llame Lily (773.759.2155).

Reunión comunitario 22 de Octubre a las 11am a 2221 N. Latrobe Ave para celebrar la victoria de la familia Tellez para conservar su casa y para discutir la lucha por el derecho a la vivienda para todos y todas!