Progressive Rep. Bob Filner Risks Arrest To Save Cancer Victim’s Home From Foreclosure

As ThinkProgress has noted, there are currently two competing visions of governance in the United States. One, the conservative version, believes in the on-your-own society, and sides with powerful corporations and other privileged sectors of America. The other vision, the progressive one, believes in an American Dream that works for all people, regardless of their racial, religious, or economic background.

This progressive vision was on full display yesterday during a vigil led by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) that halted, for now, the foreclosure of a cancer victim’s home. For months, Bonita, California resident Luz Maria Villanueva had been facing impending foreclosure on her home by Union Bank. Villanueva’s situation was especially dire due to the fact that her son has a kidney disease as well as cancer. As medical bills began to pile up, Villanueva had to choose between the life of her son and her home, and she chose her son.

As Union Bank began to close in on Villanueva’s home, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), who represents the woman and her son in Congress, took note of her situation. Comparing the struggle of families trying to keep their homes to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s which landed him in a Mississippi jail for two months, Filner announced that he’d be holding a community vigil on the steps of Villanueva’s house on the day a local sheriff was scheduled to come foreclose on her. He warned that doing so “may result” in his arrest, but that was willing to risk it to help her save her home. Thanks to the publicity Filner and the surrounding community brought to the case, Union Bank decided to call off the foreclosure, for now:

“Thank you, thank you!” Luz Maria Villanueva’s voice was choked with emotion at a rally on her front lawn organized by Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego). Nearly 100 people turned out at 5:30 a.m. for a candlelight vigil to protest Union Bank’s announced plan to have the Sheriff’s department take Villanueva’s Bonita home. She has pleaded for a reprieve at least until her young son, who has cancer, completes chemotherapy treatments.

“We’re going to stand together to change America,” said Rep. Filner. “We have a president who talked about hope. We have to give him strength. The banks have taken over both parties.” He called for changes in the law to protect those victimized by predatory lending practices. The rally drew widespread media attention; at least three major TV stations as well as print and online media reporters were on hand to cover the event. Although Villanueva attained a temporary stay when Union Bank called off the Sheriff today, the order could be reissued, Filner warned those present. “We got them to back down, but we need you to be on call.”

Local news station San Diego 6 covered the event. Filner told the station that he gets “hundreds of calls” every day from other constituents facing foreclosure on their homes. He also reiterated his commitment to passing cramdown legislation — which was defeated in Congress last year — to help people stay in their homes. Watch San Diego 6’s report:

The fate of Villanueva’s home is still up in the air, as Union Bank has promised to continue negotiations with her and Filner. For his part, the congressman hopes that other communities and their legislators fight to help their neighbors keep their homes. “I hope this spreads across America,” he said at the vigil yesterday.