Reposted from Workday Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Last September, Rosemary Williams, a long-time resident and activist of South Minneapolis, received a Notice of Foreclosure on her home. Monday was her last day to legally reside in her home of 55 years. “When I first learned that my house was being foreclosed on I was very depressed and emotional. I had just gone through some difficult times, temporarily losing my job and seeing my adjustable rate mortgage nearly double in one year, ” Williams related. “But when banks like TCF rejected federal aid money to help people stay in their homes, I said to myself, ‘Someone has got to step up and be a spokeswoman.”

Now, six months later, her home has become an epicenter of local protest and mobilization efforts against the rampant foreclosures forcing Minnesotans out of their houses and onto the streets. And on Monday over 100 friends, local activists and students came to protest her eviction and protect her home.

The gathering, described as an occupation by members of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) —an advocacy group that recently led a demonstration against a Hennepin County sheriff’s auction of foreclosed homes – began about 8 a.m. and included a midday press conference, home cooked meals and lively discussion over the current housing crisis.

After nightfall and no sign of the police, Williams and PPEHRC considered the occupation a small but important success in their fight for this much-loved home and for Minnesotans currently in the process of losing their homes. But the battle is far from over and organizations like the Minnesota Tenants Union, among others, are continuing a vigorous campaign to save Williams’ home.

First, they are directly appealing to the new owner of her mortgage. Drawing largely from a policy recently instituted by Fannie Mae that allows tenants to remain in their homes even in the case of foreclosure, their appeal—taking the form of a letter – is asking the mortgagee to allow Rosemary “the option to sign a month-to month lease and become a tenant of the Company.”

Second, they are working in coordination with the Coalition for a People’s Bailout to pass state legislation that would allow people living in foreclosed properties—owners and tenants alike – to stay in their homes and renegotiate their mortgages or rent.

“The problem with Rosemary’s case,” Peter Brown, secretary of the Minnesota Tenants Union, explained, “is that no one is exactly sure who currently owns Rosemary’s mortgage.” While the Notice of Foreclosure lists the company Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems as the property’s mortgagee, a recent letter from Williams’ legal aid contends that the mortgage was later transferred to another financial institution, GMAC.

“With the end to the redemption period, it is our working hypothesis that GMAC is the current owner of Rosemary’s house,” Brown stated. “Unless they, too, have transferred the mortgage to another company without our knowledge.”

In the meantime Williams must wait for the mortgagee, whomever that maybe, to bring her case to court. When that time comes the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, the Minnesota Tenants Union and many others have pledged they will be right there with her.

Alessandra Fuhrman, a student at Macalester College, is an intern with Workday Minnesota.

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