Pushing back - Page 3

Reoccupied foreclosed Bayview house becomes a home base for the 'foreclosure fighters'

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Dexter Cato (left), with ILWU brothers, reoccupying his home March 16
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

"At this point I wrote Wells Fargo and I said, I have this paperwork, and I want you to honor it and rescind the foreclosure," Kenney explained when she came to speak with us at the Guardian offices. She gave us copies of the forbearance agreement.

"Their response was, we did nothing wrong and the foreclosure will stand," she said. "So at that point I decided I would fight to retain my home."

After dishing out most of her savings in a lawsuit and eviction stays, the fight looked grim, and her house was slated for eviction. The plan — the last line of defense — was to simply bring as many people as possible to Kenney's home and hope they could fend off eviction. Kenney remembers her nerves, huddled up that cold morning with veteran foreclosure fighter Vivian Richardson, worried that no one would show up.

"Then, at six in the morning, I had foreclosure fighters, neighbors, friends, Occupy Bernal, Occupy folks period, they just started showing up at the house, and just sat down, hunkered down with me and said, we'll do whatever we can to at least dissuade the sheriff," she recalls

It worked. And it hasn't stopped working. Many people who have joined with Occupy Bernal and ACCE are still in their homes thanks to everything from lobbying politicians to civil disobedience. Some were evicted despite the protest movement's best efforts but, thanks to newfound community, they avoided homelessness.

Kathy Galvess wasn't able to keep her home, but her experience was made much more pleasant by Occupy Bernal. "Stardust got the moving truck and helped me move, out of the goodness of his heart," she told me. "And if it wasn't for Vivian, me and my sister would be wandering the streets in these storms we've been having."

It's that community, it's that tireless work, it's that victory in the midst of a sea of ongoing challenges that was celebrated at the barbecue at Cato's house. It's hard to know the future of the occupied home. The goal of the coalition supporting it was to keep it until April 24, the day of a Wells Fargo shareholders meeting that a large coalition of advocates are determined to shut down.

But for now, the place has become a community center and a symbol of hope and defiance. Politicians have certainly taken note. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last week urging banks to suspend foreclosures in San Francisco.

"It's great," Cato said. "That's what the house is useful for right now. Everyone's coming in and asking, how can we be a part of this, how can we help."

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