Through Sleet and Snow, Eviction Blockade Draws Out Dozens of Supporters, But No Marshal
Akhom Phetphanh and his Son Ty Locked to the Front Porch of Their House
April 15, 2014
Rochester, NY - Despite rain, snow, and sleet dozens of neighbors and community members formed a nonviolent eviction blockade to stop the unjust foreclosure/eviction of Akhom Phetphanh and his family at 256 Durnan Street. Despite Mr. Phetphanh being willing and able to pay to stay in his home, Everbank is trying to evict him and his son, an action that will make them homeless.
Mr. Phetphanh has been served a 72 eviction hour notice and Tuesday was the planned day of the eviction. However, the blockade and intervention of Rochester City Councilmen Michael Patterson thwarted the eviction for now. "I don't need another vacant house on Durnan St." said Councilman Patterson. Of the 10 closest houses to the Phetphanh residence 5 of them are already vacant. It is uncertain when the marshal may try to return.
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 Akhom and his son.
In 1987 Akhom and his family came to United State from Laos. After escaping Laos' oppressive authoritarian "Communist" regime, they came to the United State searching for freedom and the American Dream. By 1994, Mr. Phetphanh had saved enough money to achieve his dream of buying a house in Rochester. Although Mr. Phetphanh took out a loan for only $13,667, like many immigrants and low-income people of color, he was steered into a high-interest predatory loan by Alliance Banking. The loan was bought and sold many times to different banks, until finally EverBank took control of the loan. In 2012, Akhom had a reduction in income on leaving his job so EverBank aggressively moved to foreclose. Akhom attempted to catch up but EverBank would not accept his payments and refuses to work with him. For more background, see Mr. Phetphanh's open letter to EverBank
EverBank's Pattern and Practice of Fraud
After paying for well over 15 years, EverBank claims Mr. Phetphanh still owes over $9,000, even though his original mortgage was only $13,667. The bank claims they don't have the full history of the loan and therefore cannot resolve discrepancies but insist they should be trusted regarding their information on the amount owed.This type of practice is consistent with what Federal Reserve and Office of Comptroller Currency called EverBank's "unsafe and unsound practices in mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing."(See New York Times article.) For these practices EverBank was issued a cease and desist order and forced to pay back millions of dollars to thousands of borrowers they had wronged (see Washington Post article).
"I Have No Choice But To Stay"
At the age of 64 and facing the foreclosure of his longtime home, Mr. Phetphanh says "I have no choice but to stay. Where would I go? I've put so much into this house." In addition to displacing a family, foreclosures hurt the stability of neighborhoods, driving up public costs by lowering property values, increasing crime, health care costs, and police costs. In Rochester, Take Back the Land Rochester and community allies have worked to unite tenants and homeowners in foreclosure to fight for the structural changes that stop displacement and support the economic human right to housing. According to Take Back the Land organizer Ryan Acuff, "This is not simply a conflict between a man and bank. This is conflict between two visions about how to organize our neighborhoods. We're choosing people over profit, need over greed, and human rights over corporate rights. And we won't be satisfied until our community is organized around the right to the housing and self-determination of the people over their land and housing,"
- Protesters, Councilmen Fight Eviction (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 16, 2014)
- Take Back the Land Joins Akhom Phetphanh To Stop Eviction Of Family Home (Minority Reporter, April 16, 2014)
- Petition: EverBank: Withdraw Foreclosure and Eviction of Akhom Phetphanh in Rochester, NY