Grandmother Who Was Dragged Out of Her Foreclosed Home May Get It Back
On Monday, a Rochester grandmotherwas kicked out of her home of seven years, despite a human barricade of neighbors and protesters blocking police entry into the house. Authorities responded to the eviction defense barricade -- a two-week-long action organized by Take Back the Land-Rochester -- by sending a reported 25 police cars and the Rochester SWAT team to drag Catherine Lennon and her seven grandchildren from their home. Lennon headed to the local homeless shelter for the night, while six TBL volunteers were arrested. Lennon's elderly neighbor was taken to jail in her pajamas.
While they couldn't prevent Lennon's eviction, the brave actions of her neighbors and TBL's organizing helped publicize Lennon's case, bringing it to the attention of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter. On Tuesday Slaughter reached out to Fannie Mae, which must have calculated that the PR tide was turning and agreed to review the case. The next day Lennon had a phone conversation with Fannie Mae officials. She says the call was "very positive" and company representatives promised to help her get her home back, according to TBL.
Obviously, most homeowners facing eviction can't count on a state rep. to pick up the phone and lobby on their behalf. Really, they have little recourse short of magically becoming rich enough for banks to care about what happens to them.
But TBL is trying to change the hopelessness and lack of options afflicting people on the verge of losing their housing. The nationwide organization, comprised of local action groups, demands that housing be elevated to a human right. They stage actions to help people stay in their foreclosed homes and promote housing policies that serve the common good over the interests of banks. The group lobbies for the expansion of public housing and calls for establishing a human right to housing under law.
They operate in accordance with the principle that homeless people need empty homes more than banks do. "As the homeless sleep in the streets, cars and parks, vacant buildings, owned by banks and local governments, dot the urban skyline and shock the moral conscience. These structures must be put to use for the benefit of people in need of housing," they write in their mission statement.
"We believe that every person, by mere virtue of their humanity, has the fundamental right to a decent home they can afford, regardless of their income. We are building a movement to elevate housing to the level of a human right. Consider yourself invited."