Last year, Monique White asked Occupy activists, who had set up in a plaza in downtown Minneapolis, to help her fight foreclosure of her north Minneapolis home.
“She decided in the midst of that fight to begin planting a garden,” said Occupy Homes MN member Jillia Pessenda. “Even when the bank was trying to take her home, she was planting roots and planting seeds of change.”
White was one of the first homeowners in the country to successfully renegotiate her mortgage with the help of Occupy activists. That victory helped spawn the Occupy Homes movement across the country, as Occupy activists shifted their focus from public plazas to foreclosed houses, Pessenda said.
About 45 activists from Occupy Homes groups across the country are in Minneapolis this week to meet, strategize and eat food from White’s garden.
The world of foreclosure can be complex; many home loans are no longer owned by the banks that initially gave them (which is among the issues that spurred the Los Angeles city attorney to file a lawsuit against Minneapolis-based US Bank).
Even though her group only usually makes headlines when its members are arrested or a house is evicted, Pessenda said they’ve stayed busy with more long-term work.
Occupy Homes MN found out yesterday that they won a loan modification on a mortgage for a home in Coon Rapids. Bank of America confirmed in a statement to MPR News that the homeowners had been offered a trial loan modification, and that the bank will rescind the foreclosure sale after three months of payments.
In Minnesota, the foreclosure rate has started to slightly decline, although a February report from HousingLink found that it was transforming from a problem caused by sub-prime mortgages to a problem caused by unemployment.