Duluth Occupiers reach out to foreclosed homeowners

DULUTH, Minn.—The scourge of home foreclosures is sweeping the nation. Despite that fact that the Democrats and Republicans dumped hundreds of billions of public money into the vaults of the big banks, working class-homeowners are seeing no relief. And it’s no different in Duluth.

This winter, a group of activists from the local Occupy movement got together and decided to try and do something about it. Calling themselves Project Save Our Homes, they reached out to a local homeowner, Ann Lockwood, who was facing foreclosure.
Ann’s story is tragic, but at the same time similar to that of millions of other working-class homeowners, who more often than not are in foreclosure due to a medical catastrophe or losing their job. Ann was a health-care worker who, a couple of years back, suffered a minor, on the job, injury. What should have been a routine surgery ended up causing an infection. Two-dozen surgeries and a million dollars in medical bills later, Ann lost her leg, and her job. Yet despite this tragedy, the bank that held her mortgage, refused to work with her and acknowledge her new difficulties.
Ann was just weeks away from a sheriff’s sale when she was contacted by Project Save Our Homes. She readily accepted our offer to help, and we sprung into action. Thousands of signatures were collected in a petition to her bank demanding that they do the right thing. Protests were held, the media was contacted, and a powerful upsurge of community support embraced Ann’s cause.
This sudden, and unexpected deluge of publicity shamed State Farm Bank into canceling the foreclosure and offering her a new agreement that will keep Ann in her home.
It was a victory that brought tears to many of our eyes, but it has since triggered a deluge of pleas for help from other area homeowners. Since Ann’s victory, Project Save Our Homes has gone on to organize community forums on the issue of home foreclosures, secure the endorsement of dozens of unions and community and activist groups, and is already working on its next campaign—to save the Dunbar family in the neighboring city of Superior from foreclosure. 
> The article above was written by Adam Ritscher, and first appeared in the March 2012 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.