Author Topic: Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Wall Street Offshoot, Builds a Reputation...  (Read 1407 times)

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Offline Riney

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Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Wall Street Offshoot, Builds a Reputation in Battling Foreclosures
By Teke Wiggin     | Posted Nov 6th 2012 1:10PM

Though Occupy Wall Street is fading from the public eye, one of its offshoots continues to garner attention, carrying the torch as perhaps the most potent legacy of a movement that's largely cooled.

Ten months ago, Occupy Our Homes officially launched in more than 20 cities, staging sit-ins at properties in danger of foreclosure to help distressed homeowners stave off eviction. And even in its youth, the movement is gaining steam as it tweaks its campaign tactics in order to reach a larger swath of homeowners and musters additional support from peer advocacy groups and public figures.

Organizers of some of the most active chapters of OOH -- in Atlanta, Minnesota, California and Washington, D.C. -- indicated that, since then, they have fought for more than 40 homeowners headed toward foreclosure and eviction. And, according to them, a majority of the campaigns ended in the favor of the homeowners.

"You look at the Occupy movement and you say, 'What are they doing?' " said Tim Franzen, an organizer with OOH Atlanta. "I think that Occupy Our Homes has brought tangible results for the 99 percent."

Franzen said that his chapter has waged 21 campaigns aimed at saving homeowners from foreclosure since December 2011. Eleven of the completed campaigns resulted in either a loan modification, a short sale or a delayed foreclosure for the homeowners, he added.

Empowering Down-and-Out Borrowers

Jacqueline Barber, a retired detective who lives in Fayetteville, Ga., is one homeowner who has drawn the support of OOH Atlanta. Barber failed to land a loan modification with her lender after slipping on her mortgage payments in 2010 -- when she was diagnosed with cancer -- even though she successfully completed a trial modification, she said.

After being denied help from her bank, as well as city officials and housing groups, she contacted Franzen in early October at the advice of a friend. Now there are several tents erected on her property (pictured at top), a bus parked near her front door and at least one OOH activist always on watch, ready to call for backup if there is an eviction attempt, Barber and organizers said.

Barber (pictured at left with homeowner Ana Casas Wilson, who is resisting eviction with the help of activists in Los Angeles) said that she avoided going public with her case for two years because she didn't want to "air my dirty laundry." But now that she's a focal point of an OOH effort, she said that she feels "pride."

The shift in her mindset is an example of what many point to as Occupy Our Homes' greatest contribution: The movement has helped chip away at the stigma attached to foreclosure and has spurred distressed homeowners and their neighbors to fight back.

"Nobody was telling homeowners that they could say 'no' and that they shouldn't feel ashamed," said Melissa Byrne, an organizer with OOH D.C. But now, because of OOH, many see that "it's important to fight" for themselves and others, she said.

Mike Haack, another OOH D.C. organizer, said that his group has been involved in four campaigns since its launch. One campaign won a homeowner a loan modification, he said, while the other ended after three months when "federal marshals showed up with machine guns and pushed [the homeowner] out." Two other campaigns are ongoing, he added.

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"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear