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Community Eviction Defence Stops Eviction, Keeps George Douglass in His Home

On Tuesday, December 2, George Douglass, neighbors, Take Back the Land Rochester, and dozens of community members braved freezing temperatures and formed a nonviolent  eviction blockade that stopped the eviction of Wells Fargo's attempt to remove him from his home.  George is still seeking a permanent action to withdraw the order and negotiate a final settlement so he can stay in his home.

Mr. Douglass has been served a 72 hour eviction notice and Tuesday was the planned day of the eviction. However, the blockade thwarted the eviction for now.  Take Back the Land Rochester is organizing an eviction watch encampment from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (the times an eviction could be carried out in New York State) in order to watch the house and alert the community if the authorities try to remove George Douglass. 

George Douglass is willing and able to pay but Wells Fargo is trying to evict him so they can collect their FHA insurance check from the federal government.  Mr. Douglass and other community members are willing to risk arrest as an act of civil disobedience in order to keep George in his home and reform the FHA government policy that incentivizes evictions and foreclosures for banks. 

Mass foreclosures and evictions only create more homelessness, displacement, vacant houses that fall into disrepair, and decrease the overall quality of life in a neighborhood.  Take Back the Land Rochester believes the whole community has a vested interest in keeping people in their homes.

 Background:
"My name is George Douglass. When my wife and I purchased a home in Rochester, NY in February 2008, it was a dream come true. It was to be a haven of stability and security. Yet that dream has now turned into a nightmare. Despite my best efforts, despite ill health, and despite my ability to make payments, Wells Fargo has foreclosed on my home and an order of eviction is in effect. 

In 2008, my wife and I were both employed by the Hyatt Regency Rochester Hotel where I had been working for eleven years. She was also attending nursing school and we were raising two children. Our lives seemed stable and the future bright. Then in May 2009, like so many others after the banks brought the economy down, I lost my job due to cut backs. I was able to get unemployment and a temporary job that lasted six months, but hard times took their toll. Shortly after the job ended, my wife and I divorced and she moved out of the house. My health declined, the unemployment checks ended, and my wife was no longer there to help pay the bills. Now in my 50's and suffering from health issues, finding employment was a challenge. Looking at hard times ahead, I applied for a loan modification.

Nothing came through. 

I was diagnosed with type II diabetes, severe hypertension, high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, and pulmonary sarcoidosis (the autoimmune disease that lo;;ed Reggie White and Bernie Mac). After bureaucratic delays, I was finally approved for disability. 

In May 2011 Wells Fargo took over my mortgage and made no effort to work out a plan with me. Only one month later, they opted to aggressively foreclose on my home with the help of the now disgraced N.Y. foreclosure mill attorney Steven J. Baum.

Wells Fargo went through hard times, too, but when they were struggling, they received massive bailouts from U.S. treasury, totaling up to $50 billion. Even though my home is on the line, I am not asking for a bailout. I am just asking Wells Fargo to allow me to continue to pay a fair monthly amount so I can remain in my home.

I believe this to be both a moral question and an issue of justice. Houses all over Rochester lay vacant and in disrepair due to unjust foreclosures. I will remain in my home. I am asking Wells Fargo to withdrawn the eviction, and am working with Take Back the Land Rochester to launch a public campaign to shine light on Wells Fargo’s unjust practices. I join with them to oppose the mass evictions being carried out after foreclosure by the banks, causing untold suffering to thousands of people and dragging down our communities."

 

 

Photo by Shawn Dowd