About 20 California activists surrounded a local home this weekend to prevent Freddie Mac and Chase Bank from foreclosing on the property, even amid rumors that sheriff’s deputies were coming to seize it. The Riverside, California home belongs to Arturo de los Santos, a former Marine who told Riverside’s City News Service that he fell behind on his payments when business plummeted at the factory where he’s employed.
De los Santos said he applied for a modification to his mortgage to lower his monthly costs, only to be rejected by Chase. The bank then initiated foreclosure proceedings, and a local judge granted possession to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which guaranteed the loan, last week. That allows the local sheriff to seize the property, a situation de los Santos and the Occupiers are trying to prevent, CNS reports:
He said around 20 demonstrators are staying inside and outside the three-bedroom property.
De los Santos told CNS last week that he was prepared to get arrested to spotlight how “the bank is messing up.”
The former U.S. Marine sent a letter to Sheriff Stan Sniff explaining his circumstances and asking the county’s top law enforcement officer not to carry out an eviction.
De los Santos’ story, unfortunately, has become all too common. President Obama’s foreclosure prevention programs have fallen woefully short and Republicans in Congress refuse to take steps — such as taxing large banks to pay for further homeowner assistance — to alleviate the nation’s housing crisis. Banks and lenders, meanwhile, have made the problem worse, perpetuating fraudulent foreclosures, illegally foreclosing on military members and other homeowners, and foreclosing on homes they don’t even own.
Across the country, Occupy Our Homes has drawn attention to these problems by placing homeless families in vacant homes, disrupting foreclosure auctions, and forcing banks to renegotiate mortgage terms on properties in foreclosure. “I know because of them I am still in my home,” an Atlanta woman said of the Occupiers in December. “They got everyday people like myself involved. Everyday people contacting Chase and advocating for me, peaceful demonstrations, people calling and writing in.”