Saturday, May 30, 2009
Photos and Update: MN Families in Foreclosure Sit-in at Sheriff's SaleShareThis
May 29, 2009
By Sheila Nelson, Minnesota PPEHRC
Another travesty occurred inside Minneapolis City Hall today, as Sheriff Rich Stanek's staff attempted to conduct the mortgage foreclosure auction of Leslie & Tecora Parks' southside homes of over 22 years.
However, this auction was not what the usual bidders (i.e. greedy banks & speculators) have come to expect!This particular sale was brought to the attention of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, who drew a sobering number of supporters, neighbors, and fellow victims of the current national foreclosure crisis. PPEHRC members choked back tears as they shared one bank horror story after another with the crowd. Their dreams are being shattered, their community is crumbling, and they're all spitting mad about it.
After PPEHRC members and supporters began obstructing the entry way and interfering with the "public" auction proceedings they were semi-civilly escorted to the hallway where the protest continued. The angry chants echoing through the halls quickly caught the attention of Minneapolis 8th Ward City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden who couldn't ignore the intense cries for change. She addressed those in attendance and empathized with the pain residents are going through.
As this battle between the big banks and their borrowers heats up, more and more "Davids" are coming forward demanding to know what all the "Goliaths" have done with the bailout money they received. "Why are good families being tossed inhumanely onto the streets? Everyone knows affordable housing is a theory, not something that actually exists." shouted one protester, while the Parks family stood by absorbing the enormity of it all and trying to adjust to the reality of what was happening a few yards away behind closed doors. Amid the tragic stories there was prayer, encouragement, and even some visible compassion on the part of the Sheriff's Deputies present - several of whom could not remain stoic as the stories and cries continued, proving that even the officials trying to serve "justice" are not immune to the problem!
Stay tuned for further updates, pictures and video footage of the demonstration.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
DIE-IN & SPEAK OUT FOR SINGLE PAYER NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE at “United Health Group” HMO Annual MeetingShareThis
LETS SOLVE THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS!
WEAR BLACK and BRING A PERSONAL STORY, express yourself creatively
Directions:United Health Group corporate headquarters,MNTKA,
9701DataParkDrive ( From DT Mpls take I 94W to I-394 west to I-169
South. Go south 5.7 mi to Londonderry Rd/Bren Rd exit. Turn R (west),
circle around until it turns into Data Park Dr.
Sponsored by: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ACTION NETWORK-MN (UHCANMN),
endorsed by Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition, Practitioners
United Minnesota, Economic Crisis Action Group, Twin Cities Gray
Panthers, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, Schneider Drug,
West Bank Pharmacy call joel 612-384-0973, email@example.com
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Cheri Honkala to testify at Mississippi human rights hearingShareThis
Monday, May 25, 2009
Supporters say “Come to court, Support Rosemary Williams, stop foreclosures”ShareThis
For Release: 5-24-2009
Supporters say “Come to court, Support Rosemary Williams, stop foreclosures”
Foreclosure and eviction trial for Rosemary Williams set to start Tuesday, May 26
Tuesday, May 26:
8:00 AM: News Conference & Speak-Out: Support Rosemary –
Stop the Foreclosures
5th Street Plaza, Hennepin County Government Center Downtown Minneapolis
9:00 AM: Foreclosure trial set to start in Hennepin County District Court,
judge & room number TBA.
Rosemary Williams, a long-time resident of Minneapolis' Central neighborhood, has won wide community support in her struggle to prevent her mortgage company from foreclosing on her home and evicting her.
On Tuesday, May 26, Ms. Williams will go to court seeking an end to the foreclosure process. This is one of the first legal battles against a foreclosure in Minnesota.
Ms. Williams is contesting the foreclosure and eviction on several grounds. Hundreds of neighbors, friends and community members have signed legal requests to intervene in her case. Her supporters argue that her eviction, which will lead to another vacant home, would create a public nuisance for the entire neighborhood.
Stef Yorek, of the MN Coalition for a People's Bailout, said, “Low-income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color have been the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Foreclosures and evictions destabilize communities, we need to keep people in their homes, not create more empty houses and more homelessness.”
Cheri Honkala, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign said, “We are urging people to come to court on Tuesday morning to show solidarity with Rosemary Williams and her fight against foreclosure and eviction.”
Honkala went on to say, “This case must send a message to the banks and mortgage companies, as well as the politicians: Stop the foreclosures, working people and low-income people need a bailout, not the banks!”
Several organizations and coalitions have been acting to build support for the court case and to speak out for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
For more information:
--MN Coalition for a People's Bailout
Linden Gawboy: 612-296-5649 or Stef Yorek: 612-823-4841
--Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Cheri Honkala: 267-439-8419 or 612-821-2364
Local Native Elder Fights Eviction due to Foreclosure- Demands Wells Fargo RenegotiateShareThis
Friday, May 22, 2009
by Flo Razowsky
Ona Kingbird is a Twin Cities Ojibwa elder who has taught for 36 years in Minnesota public schools and prisons. As a Red Lake tribal member and bearer of the pipe given by her father, a medicine man, she has preserved the culture of her students at Heart of the Earth school in South Minneapolis. She has provided a home for her family, including her daughter and grandkids. But today Ms. Kingbird faces homelessness due to foreclosure on her house.
AND SHE IS FIGHTING!
During a press conference today held outside her home on the 3900 block of Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis, Ona said, "I paid a lot for this house and I have asked Wells Fargo to work with me in the situation, which they have refused to do. I'm not moving."
Ms. Kingbird, like so many others, spent years paying off a mortgage through Wells Fargo. In the wake of family crisis and communications confusion, Wells Fargo refused to work with Ms. Kingbird toward resolution and now is moving forward on foreclosure. Her house was sold in March via a Sheriff's sale back to Wells Fargo-the original mortgage holder. She has four months to raise 50 thousand dollars, get a court injunction demanding that Wells Fargo renegotiate her mortgage to an affordable rate, or else she faces eviction.
Twin Cities' neighborhoods are becoming more and more desolate as home after home goes into foreclosure and occupants are evicted. During this time of economic crisis, financial institutions like Wells Fargo have received financial stimulus packages to encourage them to work with homeowners to renegotiate affordable solutions to the growing housing crisis. So far, homeowners like Ona Kingbird have yet to see the results of this stimulus money, begging the question, where exactly is this money going?
Ona Kingbird has been getting the run-around via the routes that Wells Fargo offers their customers for assistance, resulting in failure. Instead she is turning to organizations like the MN Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (MN PPEHRC) for help. MN PPEHRC is publicly supporting and fighting alongside folks like her to demand a moratorium on foreclosures in order for mortgage companies to renegotiate affordable mortgages with affected homeowners.
By refusing to leave her home, Ona Kingbird now joins a list of six other families who are also resisting foreclosure and the destruction of their neighborhoods. PPEHRC Organizer Cheri Honkala says, "These neighbors should serve as inspiration to communities across Minnesota and the country who wish to stay in their houses rather than be destroyed by banks like Wells Fargo."
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO SUPPORT ONA AND SAVE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
Raise money from local groups, churches, and neighborhoods to help cover legal fees.
Join the MN PPEHRC's Underground Railroad Project to help get signatures on petitions to intervene in her foreclosure.
Write and call U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, representatives of the state legislature, the mayor of Minneapolis, and other elected officials.
Demand that Wells Fargo negotiate with MN PPEHRC families losing their homes because Wells Fargo won't work with them.
For more information or to get involved, see http://mnppehrc.wordpress.com/
Friday, May 22, 2009
MN PPEHRC Holds Press Conference Supporting 72 Year Old Elder, Ona Kingbird, Refusing To Leave Her Home, Details Next Week In Foreclosure ResistanceShareThis
Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
MN PPEHRC HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE SUPPORTING 72 YEAR OLD ELDER REFUSING
TO LEAVE HER HOME, DETAILS NEXT WEEK IN FORECLOSURE RESISTANCE
Please join the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign for a
press conference on Friday, May 22nd at noon at 3933 Cedar Avenue in
Ona Kingbird, a 72 year old elder from Red Lake, is refusing to leave
her home in South Minneapolis in the face of forcelosure by her bank,
Wells Fargo. By doing so, she now joins a list of six other families
who are also resisting foreclosure and the destruction of their
PPEHRC will also lay out plans for a week of resistance to
foreclosures and evictions, with neighbors standing together against
PPEHRC Organizer, Cheri Honkala says, "These neighbors should serve as
inspiration to communities across Minnesota and the country who wish
to stay in their houses, rather than be destroyed by banks like Wells
What: Press Conference detailing Ona Kingbird's case and next week of
resistance to foreclosures and evictions
When: 12 PM Friday, May 22nd
Where: 3933 Cedar Ave in South Minneapolis
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
MAINE: Cheri Honkala meets with Visible Communities to Discuss Housing TakeoversShareThis
Neighbors sue to try to stop eviction of Minneapolis womanShareThis
Court documents filed! Neighbors Vs. the bank!ShareThis
Summons for GMAC to appear in court
Brian Finstad's Affidavit
Craig Stellmacher's Affidavit
Motion to Stay
Neighbors, friends and community organizations File Lawsuit Against GMAC on Rosemary Williams Foreclosure Case.ShareThis
April 20, 2009
Neighbors, friends and community organizations
File Lawsuit Against GMAC on Rosemary Williams Foreclosure Case.
Wednesday, May 20, 9:00 a.m.
Location: GMAC Mortgage, 380 Jackson Street, Suite 700, St. Paul, MN
The Central Area Neighborhood Association, and neighbors of Rosemary Williams, a resident of south Minneapolis facing eviction as a result of a foreclosure on her house, have filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court to try and prevent her eviction by GMAC Mortgage LLC. The lawsuit alleges that GMAC will be creating a private nuisance, harmful to neighbors and the community, by creating another vacant house on a block already hard hit by the foreclosure crisis.
Williams, called a "pillar of the community" by her neighbors, has lived on the same block in south Minneapolis for over 55 years. The lawsuit alleges that vacant houses on the block have been magnets for crime and are poorly maintained by the financial companies that take possession when owners are evicted. Several houses on the block where Williams lives have already been stripped of copper and other valuable items, driving down property values. Neighbors seek to have Williams be allowed to stay in her home as part of an effort to stabilize the neighborhood and prevent additional harm to residents.
Steff Yorek, from the MN Coalition for a Peoples Bailout said, "Low income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color have been the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. I live six blocks from Rosemary Williams, I see first hand how this hurricane of foreclosures is devastating my neighborhood."
Cheri Honkala is a neighbor of Rosemary Williams, of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign. The PPEHRC office is located in the Central neighborhood, states "Rosemary Williams is on the front lines of the fight against foreclosures. We are organizing in our neighborhood and our neighbors are behind her. We will do everything in our power to prevent her eviction."
This lawsuit is being filed ahead of Ms. Williams' trial on the foreclosure related eviction proceedings, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 9am at the Hennepin County Government Center.
For more information contact:
Steff Yorek / Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout @ 612-865-8234
Cheri Honkala / Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign @ 267-439-8419
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Home of MN PPEHRC members Leslie and Tecora Parks was illegally broken into by Indymac Federal Bank.ShareThis
Manuel Levins Holden
Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 19, 2009 - The Home of MN Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign members Leslie and Tecora Parks was illegally broken into by Indymac Federal Bank. The bank changed the locks in an attempt to prematurely evict the two women who've lived at their Park Avenue residence for over twenty years.
MN PPEHRC is planning a demonstration on May 29th at the Sheriff's office the day the home was scheduled to be sold at a sheriffs' foreclosure sale.
This crime, ten days before the home is scheduled to be sold has persuaded the women to attempt to obtain a restraining order against the bank to prevent them from re-attempting an illegal violation of their human rights.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Build A Health Justice MovementShareThis
Original Article: http://weap.org/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=138&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01returnid=17
May 6, 2009
The work of poverty and health justice knows no boundaries. That is why the Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP) has always made it a point to link the local situation to state and national levels. The pain and injustices we are experiencing here in our home city of Oakland, CA, are the same struggles that are occurring in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and hundreds of other cities and towns across the United States. This national scope and the dire need to make connections with people mobilizing across the country, was a driving force behind WEAP’s recent “mini-tour” of Rochester, New York.
From April 20-22, WEAP’s Executive Director, Ethel Long-Scott, and WEAP’s Institute for Justice and Economic Security Associate, Nicole Martin, traveled to New York and joined with the Rochester arm of the Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA) in anti-poverty leadership development, education, and organizing work. Nationally, SWAA is an organization committed to eradicating the structural causes of inequality and injustice in our society. Founded in 1985, “the Alliance is based on principles that reflect a concern for social and economic justice, peace and coalition building with progressive social movements.” Both WEAP and SWAA are members of the umbrella organization, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and are dedicated to building a broad social justice movement across color lines to abolish poverty.
With the building of that movement in mind, for three exciting days, WEAP educated and organized for "Health care as a Human Right" by teaching about Single Payer & Universal Health Care, sounding the alarm against unjust health care “Individual Mandates,” and highlighting the immediate need to end poverty and build a broad social movement to secure the health justice we need in the United States right now.
To spotlight the urgent need to end poverty, Long-Scott appeared on two radio shows to help promote the message of poverty eradication. The first was on WDKX radio, one of the few independent African-American owned radio stations, on the “Wake UP Club” show. Long-Scott was also interviewed on WXXI radio, a Rochester public radio station akin to the Bay Area’s KQED, on the Bob Smith Show. On both shows, WEAP discussed the increasing poverty in our cities, our broken health care system, and how we need a social contract that works in the interest of the people and not for the profit of a few over the many.
WEAP also conducted two major speaking engagements during the mini-tour. The first was near Rochester at the Brockport campus of the State University of New York, as part of the American Democracy Project Speaker Series Presentation. The audience was approximately one hundred and fifty people, primarily social welfare and women’s studies students and scholars. The next night, Long-Scott spoke to the community at the Dugan Center of St. Mary’s Church. This audience, also around one hundred and fifty, included a diverse array of people – social justice activists, concerned community leaders and members, the homeless and poor, and local politicians.
At each radio show and each speaking engagement, the people of Rochester responded positively to the vision that WEAP’s Long-Scott presented. They articulated, often passionately and guided by their own heartbreaking misfortunes, their need and desire for change. People agreed that there is something fundamentally wrong with both our current health care system, and our overall economic system. Like WEAP, they also said we need to start creating a world that places human rights ahead of the profits that increasingly leave so many people homeless, hungry, sick, jobless, and without an adequate education. In other words, the audiences indicated they are tired of being treated like they aren’t worth it, like they can be kicked to the curbside and forgotten because our industries, including the medical industry, follow a “throw away” policy which dictates that cutting costs is the bottom line.
In between radio shows, speaking engagements, receptions, and strategy sessions, the superb leaders of the Rochester SWAA found the time to give its WEAP guests a tour of Rochester. Currently, Rochester has the second highest rate of child poverty among the 100 largest cities in the United States, growing income inequality, and is often called the “Murder Capital” of New York. As Californians from the Oakland Bay Area, it was absolutely eerie at times to see the similarities between one East Coast city and our own West Coast city- cities with rich histories and diversity, mixed with extreme poverty and wealth, sometimes just blocks away from each other. One of the most memorable and sadly poignant moments was a stop at Rochester’s House of Mercy, a homeless shelter in a poverty and violence stricken neighborhood, only a couple of neighborhoods away from such historical landmarks as Susan B. Anthony’s and Frederick Douglass’ homes. Inside this shelter that refuses to turn a single soul away, the amazing Sister Grace, who runs it and keeps it alive despite constant threats of closure, has been filling a wall with faces. It is her wall of death, as she has placed there every obituary of all the people she knows and loves and whose lives have been taken too soon by poverty.
It is because of Sister Grace’s wall of death, it is because of the hundred plus homicides in Oakland that occur every year, it is because of the three-million-plus homeless every night across the United States, and it is because of the some 90 million uninsured and underinsured Americans, that Long-Scott reiterated again and again on the Rochester mini-tour: “We MUST work forward towards a new vision. This new vision, where everyone’s human rights are secured and poverty is eliminated, MUST inform new strategies. A new, more just, America can’t happen until we all get involved in breaking the silence on the injustices we face and dedicating ourselves to fighting to secure health care as a human right. It makes a difference what we do.”
Monday, May 11, 2009
MN PPEHRC secures meeting with Wells Fargo, upcoming actions, photos from Mother's Day Press Conference, and more!ShareThis
- Join us for a rally for Rosemary Williams at the Hennepin County Government Center at 8am on May 26th before she goes to court to save her home and our neighborhood!
- On May 29th at 9AM, we will hold another Sheriff's Sale demonstration as they try to sell Leslie Parks and her mother's home. We must stop them from selling their homes!
by contacting Deeq Abdi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mothers who've been foreclosed on seek helpShareThis
By Jana Shortal, KARE 11 News
Updated: 5/11/2009 7:44:16 AM
If a home is the family castle, in many cases, the castle is crumbling.
On Sunday, three mothers stood with the group 'Minnesota Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign' to state their cases about being foreclosed upon and beg for mercy from the lending institutions.
"There have been three generations of Parks' to live in my mom's house," Leslie Parks said breakind down. "My mother, me, and my 88-year-old grandmother and to throw us out on the street makes no sense.
Leslie says her mother's home will be taken from them in a matter of weeks. Victims of a predatory lender, Leslie says, who sold them a mortgage her mother couldn't refuse and now a mortgage she couldn't possibly pay.
"We've been in that house 21 years, it just shouldn't happen."
Ann Patterson has a job, a husband and children.
She claims her bank will "not" work with her on a new mortgage and the result will be homelessness.
"The myth is not true; people that lose their houses deserve a break, a second chance, my children do not deserve to lose their house," Patterson said.
On Sunday the group came to call elected officials, the city and the county to action. They ask for help they say. They will pay their way but they want some help to find a mortgage rate that is livable.
Sheila Nelson came to the rally today to advocate for renters rights. Nelson has 4 children and says she was evicted after her landlord, unbeknownst to her, stopped paying his mortgage.
"I've got four kids, living on the streets. The shelters are full and we have been on the streets 3 months now," Nelson told the group.
The Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign Demands To Meet with Banks -To Save Homes & Neighborhoods! TODAY!ShareThis
Cheri Honkala-National Organizer
The Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign Demands To Meet with Banks -To Save Homes & Neighborhoods! TODAY!
Neighbors & members of the PPEHRC have decided to join together to try and take on the big banks in order to save each others homes. Inspired by Rosemary Williams who is battling GMAC in order to keep her home after living on her block for 55 years, other families step forward to join in the fight.
"I have gone everywhere looking for the Obama money so that me and my children don't lose our home and I can't find it anywhere! Where's my families' bailout? If I wait any longer, my family will lose our home like many of my neighbors who are gone now." said Ann Patterson of MN PPEHRC.
Beginning with Wells Fargo, we intend to meet with each of these banks. If they refuse to meet and negotiate than we will set up a Tent City today at 1pm at the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Headquarter son 28th and 4th in Mpls. (Old Honeywell Building).
Mr. Blair is also intent on meeting will Wells Fargo in order to save his home. Mr Blair is past the 6 month redemption period, worked as a social worker for Mpls. for years with homeless families. Now disabled, he faces losing his home any day now
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Save America Rallies – Auto Supply Chain Bus Tour CampaignShareThis
Please join UAW Region 1A in two protests on Monday, 5/11 at 8:30 am in Dearborn, and 11am in Hamtramck!
To: Region 1A Presidents, Chairs and Retiree Chairs
From: Rory L. Gamble, Director
Subject: Save America Rallies – Auto Supply Chain Bus Tour Campaign
I am encouraging all active, laid off, or retired auto workers, steel workers, school teachers, firefighters, nurses, service workers, dealership and supplier employees, small business and management representatives, elected officials and civil and community leaders to “LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!”
The Alliance for American Manufacturing, The United Steelworkers, UAW and the Mayor’s Municipalities Automotive Coalition have partnered with elected officials and auto industry stakeholders to raise public awareness of the economic importance of the auto industry supply chain.
During the week of May 11, 2009, bus tours and rallies will be held in several locations around the country to give Auto Supply Chain stakeholders an opportunity to let their voices be heard throughout the country. Members and other stakeholders will be asked to speak on how the erosion of the American manufacturing base has affected their lives. A great deal of Media coverage is expected.
UAW Region 1A active and retired workers are being asked to attend two rallies on May 11, 2009. The first rally will be held at the Dearborn City Hall, 14615 Michigan Avenue at 8:30 a.m. and the second rally will be held at Zussman Park, across from Hamtramck City Hall, 3401 Evaline, Hamtramck at 11 a.m.
Your attendance and support is strongly urged!! We need you to make calls to every rank and file member, retiree, surviving spouse, politician, regarding these rallies.
Two buses will leave UAW Region 1A on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 8 a.m. A box lunch will be provided.
To ensure that we have enough buses and boxed lunches, please contact Michelle Best at 313-299-2762 to let her know if you will be attending by noon on Friday, May 8th.
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE CALL:
Secretary to Director
Rory L. Gamble
UAW Region 1A
Friday, May 8, 2009
Press Release: Mothers Vow To Resist EvictionsShareThis
May 8, 2009
Cheri Honkala, 267-439-8419
Manuel Levins Holden, 612-919-1064
Mothers Vow To Resist Evictions
On Mothers day May 10th at 2:00 pm a press conference will be held to announce that several south side residents are pledging to fight to keep their homes, and resist evictions brought on by the current foreclosure crisis.
With the support of Minnesota Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
These families are committed to the prevention of their children becoming homeless. Together they are demanding the opportunity to re-negotiate the terms of their mortgages, with their mortgage companies.
Where: 3221 Bloomington Ave S.
Those fighting for their homes include:
- Marsha Myhre
- Leslie Parks
- Essie Jenkins
- Ann Patterson
- James Blair
- Sheila Nelson
- Donna Fletcher
- Rosemary Williams
"What's happening in our neighborhood and in our city is just morally wrong, we need to keep our families off the streets."
- Pastor Charles Graham
Macedonia Baptist Church
NY TIMES: Leaving the Trailers: Ready or Not, Katrina Victims Lose Temporary HousingShareThis
Leaving the Trailers: Ready or Not, Katrina Victims Lose Temporary
It is a slow yet steady process. Before the price of aluminum fell to 30 cents a pound, from 85 cents, he had accumulated more than $10,000, he said, almost enough to pay the electrician. But despite such progress, last Friday a worker from the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered a letter informing him that it would soon repossess the trailer that is, for now, his only home.
"I need the trailer," said Mr. Hammond, 70. "I ain't got nowhere to go if they take the trailer."
Though more than 4,000 Louisiana homeowners have received rebuilding money only in the last six months, or are struggling with inadequate grants or no money at all, FEMA is intent on taking away their trailers by the end of May. The deadline, which ends temporary housing before permanent housing has replaced it, has become a stark example of recovery programs that seem almost to be working against one another.
Thousands of rental units have yet to be restored, and not a single one of 500 planned "Katrina cottages" has been completed and occupied. The Road Home program for single-family homeowners, which has cost federal taxpayers $7.9 billion, has a new contractor who is struggling to review a host of appeals, and workers who assist the homeless are finding more elderly people squatting in abandoned buildings.
Nonetheless, FEMA wants its trailers back, even though it plans to scrap or sell them for a fraction of what it paid for them.
"All I can say is that this is a temporary program, it was always intended as a temporary program, and at a certain point all temporary programs must end," said Brent Colburn, the agency's director of external affairs. He said there would be no extensions.
As of last week, there were two groups still in the agency's temporary housing program: more than 3,000 in trailers and nearly 80 who have been in hotels paid for by FEMA since last May, when it shut down group trailer sites. Most are elderly, disabled or both, including double amputees, diabetes patients, the mentally ill, people prone to seizures and others dependent on oxygen tanks.
Of those in trailers, more than 2,000 are homeowners who fear that the progress they are making in rebuilding will come to a halt if their trailers are taken.
"They had helped me out up until this point, and I couldn't believe that they suddenly decided, no, we're not going to let you finish the house, we're just going to take the trailer, and you can sit here on an empty lot," said Philipp Seelig, 70, a retired handyman. He said he was about two months from being able to move back into his duplex in the Broadmoor neighborhood. A grant to elevate his house to the required height did not come until December.
Progress on renovations has been slow for many reasons: contractors who did shoddy work or simply absconded with money, baffling red tape and rule changes, and inadequate grants. The opening of new rental units began to accelerate this year, but many projects have been stymied by the recession.
FEMA says it has done everything it can to help those in temporary housing. But, as is so often the case when it comes to Katrina issues, the agency's clients give a different account. Agency officials insist, for example, that they have been working "extensively" to help families in trailers and hotels find permanent solutions.
"A lot of people are involved in the process of making sure that no one falls through the cracks," said Manuel Broussard, an agency spokesman in Louisiana. "Everyone's been offered housing up to this point several times. And for various reasons, they have not accepted it."
But the dozen temporary housing occupants interviewed for this story said they had received little if any attention from FEMA workers and were lucky to get a list of landlords, much less an offer of permanent housing.
In Baton Rouge, Troy Porter, 47, had been staying in virtual isolation at a $100-a-night Courtyard Inn by Marriott since last June. There, his normally manageable depression deepened until, he said, he would go for weeks without leaving his room.
"The only time I've seen FEMA workers was in the last couple of weeks, where they come and give you the paper saying this month is your last month," Mr. Porter said. "They handed you the paper, and they turned around and walked off."
Mr. Porter perked up last week when he was visited by Sister Judith Brun, who has been working with Katrina evacuees. In her view, the type of case management endorsed by FEMA — which primarily involves handing someone a list of phone numbers for other overtaxed agencies and, according to numerous Katrina victims, declining to return phone calls — lacks the type of personal engagement that someone like Mr. Porter needs to become self-sufficient.
"Because nobody comes in at a personal level to help him recover," Sister Judith said, "it costs us tons of money."
Last year, the Louisiana Recovery Authority was supposed to unveil a more intensive caseworker system for people in temporary housing, but it never materialized. The authority has now asked homeless service organizations like Unity of Greater New Orleans and the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless in Baton Rouge to help find stable housing for the hotel occupants.
FEMA officials also say that residents can buy their trailers, sometimes for as little as $300. But virtually all of the residents interviewed said they had offered to do so and been told they could not.
Residents said FEMA workers had started visiting them in the past two months, advising them not to move out and saying extensions would be available to those who showed hardship or progress in rebuilding. But agency officials said that was not the case.
Jane Batty, Mr. Seelig's longtime tenant, who has her own trailer next to his, was not surprised. "There is only one way to categorize this kind of behavior: it's crazy making," she said. "They've always had a different answer or had a different ploy to get us out of trailers that we had already agreed to buy."
Monday, May 4, 2009
For Immediate Release -- FORECLOSED HOMEOWNER FIGHTS TO STAYShareThis
April 30, 2009
For Immediate Release
Larry Dansinger, 525-7776 (Thursday)
Jaime McIntosh, 607-280-0813 (Friday AM)
FORECLOSED HOMEOWNER FIGHTS TO STAY
Searsmont resident Barbara McIntosh, whose home had been taken in foreclosure in 2008, will have her day in District Court in Belfast on Friday, May 1 at 9:45 AM. Ms. McIntosh, who was within hours of being evicted from her home of over 15 years, has submitted a request to postpone a Writ of Possession by the property's owner, Aurora Loan Services, for at least 30 days. Judge Patricia Worth will hear the case. A media briefing about the case and her situation will be held in front of the District Court in Belfast at the corner of Church and Spring Streets at 9 AM.
Ms. McIntosh has serious health problems, including a very bad back, osteoarthritis, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), which are environmental allergies. The MCS makes it especially hard for her to find another permanent place to live, since most dwellings have chemicals in them that would make her seriously ill. Her only current alternative is to live in her truck, which could cause her health to deteriorate even more.
Because of her environmental allergies, Barbara McIntosh may not be able to present her own case, since the chemicals in the courthouse may prevent her from being in the building. She is hoping the proceedings can be moved to a safer venue or that her daughter, Jaime McIntosh, can present her case.
Jaime McIntosh and two other supporters, Dawn Marie Clark and Nancy Galland, also met with Waldo County Sheriff Scott Story on Wednesday, April 29th, urging him to follow the lead of other sheriffs around the country who have stopped evictions of those who have lost their homes to foreclosure. While Story appeared sympathetic, he made no commitments to McIntosh supporters at the meeting. But Barbara McIntosh and her supporters believe that no one who has been foreclosed on should lose their homes and hope the sheriff will support that position.
An added factor in the case is L.D. 1418, a bill in the Maine legislature requiring mediation in all foreclosure cases. On Friday, Barbara McIntosh may request a postponement of any eviction until the legislature takes action on the bill, which could allow her case to go to mediation.
Trial to stave off activist's eviction gets pushed back for more talksShareThis
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