Neighbors Use Love to Fight Off Grandma’s Foreclosure

On March 28 Catherine Lennon's community, led by the housing rights group Take Back the Land Rochester, gathered around her to defend her home from eviction.

By Julianne Hing Apr 06, 2011

Yes, it’s possible: sometimes love is strong enough to fight off a behemoth of a mortgage giant’s foreclosure schemes. On March 28 Catherine Lennon’s community led by the housing rights group Take Back the Land Rochester gathered around her to defend her home from eviction, and so far have been successful in keeping the grandmother in her home.

Lennon had lived in her Rochester, New York, home for seven years but was scheduled to be evicted from her home on March 24 this year after her husband passed away in January 2008 without a will, leaving the transfer of the property up in the air. Even though Lennon was able to make housing payments, Fannie Mae refused to take her money and instead chose to evict her.

Housing advocates said financial policy discouraged banks from encouraging Lennon and other homeowners from finding workable solutions to stay in their homes.

"In order for banks to get their mortgage insurance money, they must evict the families," said Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. "Instead of a system or laws that try to keep families in their homes, banks have a perverse incentive to evict them. We should be rewarding banks that keep people in their homes, not the ones that kick people out."

So Lennon’s neighbors rallied around her. Neighbors and community members stood guard in front of her property for two weeks to help keep the family in their home until seven protesters were hauled off in handcuffs on March 28 after officials sent 25 patrol cars to arrest them, according to Take Back the Land.

"These people let me think that they were going to negotiate with me," Lennon said that day. "They came and ambushed me today…I don’t know where I’m going but I had a home right here that I lived in for years."

Take Back the Land recently announced that the actions were successful. Fannie Mae has opened up talks with Lennon after her congresswoman stepped in to demand a response.

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