No 447 Posted by fw, March 29, 2012
The Chicago activists featured in this story deserve a place on this blog, for as the About page mentions, Citizen Action Monitor is dedicated to citizen activists who “are making significant, positive contributions on an ongoing basis in their own neighbourhoods and beyond.”
Watch this short video account of how Chicago activists prevented a bank, sheriffs and foreclosure agents from evicting resident Pat Hill from her home of 17 years. My transcript with added links follows the video.
Narrator — In Chicago on March 29, 2012, Cook County sheriffs broke down the door of Pat Hill’s home of 17 years. Hill was in the midst of refinancing the mortgage with Bank of New York Mellon [BNY Mellon] when officers descended on her property breaking into her residence and evicting her tenant, Iraq war veteran, John Newman.
Willie “JR” Flemming is Chairman of Chicago’s Anti-Eviction Campaign. He describes what unfolded:
Flemming — That hole right there was done by the Cook County Sherriff Department. They came to enforce a forcible entry and detainer. And what they do is they don’t knock. They come straight in with a battering ram and knock your door down causing great damage to the property.
Narrator — Pat Hill says that thanks to community support, people could not remove her from her property.
Hill – The sheriffs were not successful in coming into my home to remove me. They came into the home. Only my daughter was here. That’s their job. They just come in and knock down the door and then the bank sends the people that they have to move your stuff out.
Narrator – Ever since, activists with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, Take Back the Land Movement, and through the support of Occupy Our Homes (Chicago) have held their eviction blockade at the south Chicago residence. Along with the night and day vigil, activists have also held marches and rallies and direct action targeting the BNY Mellon and a foreclosure company to pressure them back into negotiations with Miss Hill.
Hill – And they [the Chicago Anti-Eviction activists] visited the entity that has been designated… more or less a realty company, that was designated by the bank to do the eviction, to contact the sheriffs, to intimidate me. And they [the Chicago Anti-Eviction group] were so successful that yesterday evening I received an email from that company, cc to the lender, the representative from the lender, that they have resigned from working with them with any other properties.
Narrator – Flemming says that despite a recent $25 billion settlement over fraudulent foreclosure practices between the five leading banking institutions and the federal government, housing justice continues to be an issue that needs to be tackled at a grassroots level.
Flemming – A lot of people would think that years ago that this problem that has developed across the nation was starting to be resolved because of the bailout for the banks, because of the settlement with the attorney general. But actually the people that suffered the most are the homeowners and the tenants in these properties. While they continue to suffer, although these deals have been reached, homeowners are still suffering. As a matter of fact, there are more people facing a foreclosure fight now than there were a year and two years ago.
Narrator – Flemming describes the range of work carried out by the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign from helping homeowners facing foreclosure to remain in their homes to helping the homeless obtain housing.
Flemming – We canvas our community, identify foreclosure and vacant and abandoned buildings, we fix them up and move homeless people with children in them. We also help homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes, who’re fighting foreclosure, finding ways and tactics of fighting the banks and their mortgage services to renegotiate their loan on their home. In the event that these homeowners are moved out or are illegally evicted, we go through a process where we move them back in.
Narrator – Flemming says the work has been a success.
Flemming – We have helped to liberate seven homes in Chicago, help homeowners receive ten to fifteen modifications on their homes, some of them at the current market rate. We have successfully moved back in three homeowners into some properties and we have helped to get a moratorium on evictions a year ago.
Narrator – Along with being a longtime community activist, public school teacher and adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Hill is also a retired police officer and currently executive director the African-American Police League, a grassroots organization of black law enforcement officers working to improve community relations in black neighborhoods. Thus far, able to fight off her eviction, Hill advises those facing a similar situation to stand their ground and not leave their homes.
Hill – So anybody who is facing any type of issue where you may find it difficult to pay your mortgage or, in my case, where you know that you are being taken advantage of without any explanation, don’t leave the home, especially if that’s where your family is, especially if you put labor into it like we did here. Don’t leave your home.