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Protest group plans to "occupy" house to prevent eviction

Posted by: Randy Furst under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: April 30, 2012 - 1:47 PM

The Occupy movement is planning to stage a protest at a home in south Minneapolis to prevent an eviction following a foreclosure that they say is due to a bank error.

The lender, Freddie Mac, counters that the family never responded to offers for a loan modification. Freddie Mac said that PNC Bank serviced the loan.

The demonstrators plan to rally at the home at 4044 Cedar Ave. S. at 2 p.m., then hold a candle light vigil, starting at 8:30 p.m. After that they plan to "occupy" the house to keep sheriff's deputies from evicting the family. Occupy Homes MN, 

The campaign to halt eviction-related foreclosures has become a centerpiece of the Occupy movement in Minnesota since last fall. Over the winter, protesters staged a series of neighborhood events in support of Bobby Hull, an ex-Marine who was about to lose his south Minneapolis home. The effort led a bank to renegotiate his mortgage, allowing him to stay in his home.

Occupy Homes MN say that the David Cruz family, which has lived in the house for seven years, fell into arrears after a bank failed to withdraw a monthly payment from Cruz's bank account. The bank then demanded two months additional payment as a penalty which the family could not afford. After that, the protesters, say, the bank refused to take regular monthly payments until the past penalty was paid, and the house fell into foreclosure.

Martha Ockenfels-Martinez of Occupy Homes MN said the family then sought help from a local non-profit and believed they were making an arrangement to resolve the matter with the lender, and were surprised to learn that nothing had been worked out and they faced eviction.

Brad German, a spokesman for Freddie Mac, issued this statement:

"Our records show Mr. Cruz hasn’t made a mortgage payment in nearly two years. We have no record that he responded to offers to be evaluated for a loan modification. The mortgage was lawfully foreclosed on in August 2011 and the redemption period expired this past February. At this point, the only way for Freddie Mac and taxpayers to minimize further loss on this unpaid mortgage is to secure and sell to a new buyer. Unfortunately, Mr. Cruz has not responded to our offers to provide him with moving assistance, which remains open to him.”

Fred Soloman, a spokesman for PNC Bank, said, "Our practice is not to comment on customers."

Meanwhile Occupy MN says that after today’s protests, “We will begin to develop a further plan to defend the home.”
 

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