Nick Espinosa has fought foreclosures in the greater Minneapolis area for more than six months as an activist with Occupy Homes MN. Now, in a city that has some of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates, he and his fellow activists have saved another home: this time, it’s his own.
Citibank foreclosed on Colleen McKee Espinosa, Nick’s mother, who fell behind on her mortgage after she stopped receiving child support payments. She attempted to make two past-due payments to Citibank to catch up on the mortgage, but was instead notified that the home was already in foreclosure. Despite assurances that the bank wanted to work with her, it denied her a mortgage modification and was set to auction the home at a sheriff’s sale tomorrow.
Instead, under pressure from Occupy Homes MN and other activists, the bank announced today that it approved a modification that will keep the family in its home:
An official with CitiMortgage’s Executive Response Unit contacted the Espinosa family with news that Citibank had approved a loan modification that would keep the family in their home and reduce their payments by one-third on a 7.5 year payment plan. The dramatic news came less than 24 hours before the house was to be sold at auction on Wednesday, June 13.
“I’m so relieved that my family’s home of 16 years will not be on the auction block tomorrow,” said Colleen McKee Espinosa, a nurse and single mother who received widespread support after she pledged not to leave her home without a good faith negotiation. “We are grateful that Citibank has decided to accept my payments, and we look forward to signing the final paperwork.”
Despite Occupy Homes MN’s success at preventing evictions and foreclosures — it has already saved two previous homeowners — McKee Espinosa did not originally want to be a part of the Occupy movement. “Nick tried to drag me to homeowners meetings,” she told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “I had heard their stories and thought they were naive idealists. I supported Nick, but thought that you couldn’t fight the banks.”
After seeing the movement’s success, however, she changed her mind. “This negotiation represents a victory not just for our family, but for millions of families facing foreclosures across the country,” Nick Espinosa said today. “Countless families could stay in their homes if banks simply modified their loans based on the actual market value and reduced their principal, instead of the price to which banks inflated them before they crashed our economy. … If they can fix it for our family, they can fix it for millions of others.”