Despite the charred landscape that is the current housing market, despite the suffering borne by families all over the country, the last few years have provided a glimmer of hope that people of like circumstances have not turned their backs on each other, that they are working together for progress. And sometimes, they make it.
Out of one of the most tragic stories of the foreclosure crisis, the suicide of Norman Rousseau, has come a determination to never let this happen to anyone else again. The Rousseaus eventually lost their home despite never missing a payment, a victim of the soul-crushing bureaucracy at Wells Fargo. The bank lost the family’s payment, kicking off a three-year ordeal that ended in foreclosure. Now Oriane Rousseau is suing Wells Fargo, and she’s getting support from a group of community activists in California. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, has set up a fund for Rousseau to defray funeral expenses and relocation costs. And Rousseau is bravely using her family’s tragic story as a spur to California to pass restrictions on banks who prey on homeowners and kick them out of their homes without proper documentation. “I wouldn’t wish this ordeal on my worst enemy, but I hope that some good can come from this,” Rousseau said. “We need some protection from the awful deeds and the greed of these banks and I hope that our elected officials will actually do something for the millions of other families that have been treated this way. It won’t bring my husband back, but if my story can help other families it will be blessing.”
On a much happier note, the Occupy Our Homes movement has been highlighting illegal foreclosures across the country, and on occasion winning victims their homes back. One such victory just occurred in Los Angeles. Dirma Rodriquez had her home fraudulently foreclosed and sold by Bank of America, despite making payments on a loan modification for over a year. Before the eviction, the group Occupy Fights Foreclosures took direct action against the bank. They audited the documents related to Rodriquez’ loan and found that the date on the Notice of Trustee Sale had expired by the time the home was sold. They found Rodriquez an attorney, and yesterday Bank of America rescinded the sale and the foreclosure, returning the title back to the homeowner’s name. This story gained some national attention because Rodriquez has a daughter with severe cerebral palsy and the home was specially designed to deal with her affliction.
This is from the press release:
“We are entirely elated to tell Dirma and her family that they can sleep well at night, knowing there won’t be another knock on the door telling them they need to get out,” said Carlos Marroquin, activist with OFF. “One family has control of their own property once again. But we also know there are 10,000 more Dirmas facing this exact situation every single day. Dirma’s case is typical. We need a moratorium on foreclosures — we call for Representatives to sign on to HR4848, a moratorium bill now in Congress.” [...]
“The only ones who’ve been breaking any laws here are the banks, and I don’t see the police breaking down their doors in the middle of the night,” said Suzanne O’Keeffe, writer and OFF activist.
The victories for homeowners have been few and far between over the past several years. But I am inspired by those who continue to battle, who come to the rescue of their friends and neighbors, and who provide hope.