In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a coalition of Chicago community groups working under the banner of Occupy Our Homes begins a pro-active, citywide effort to connect with homeowners facing foreclosure.
A combination of community residents, students and other concerned citizens will join experienced housing-rights organizers and participants of the Occupy movement to speak directly to affected homeowners and their neighbors.
This series of coordinated actions – held both Jan. 15 and 16 – marks the second year that Chicago community groups have spent MLK Day informing homeowners of their rights and offering assistance to help families stay in their homes.
In Cook County, more than 21,000 properties went into foreclosure in the first half of 2011, adding to the tens of thousands already in the process. These properties will likely add to the estimated 100,000 abandoned residential units in Chicago.
Quite often financial institutions “don’t know that behind those numbers are real people,” says 17-year old Yessenia Tellez.
With help from community groups, her family successfully fought foreclosure and eviction from their Belmont-Cragin home. A student at Foreman High School, Yessenia watched her grades fall as she stressed over her family’s struggle with the foreclosure process.
But she advises other families going thru foreclosure “not to give up. It’s something worth fighting for.”
Participating groups include the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, Communities United Against Foreclosure & Eviction, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Albany Park Autonomous Center/Centro Autonomo, and other faith-based & community groups.
Many of these organizations participated in the recent nationwide “Home For The Holidays” actions coordinated by Occupy Our Homes, an umbrella group started by Occupy Wall Street participants to address the issues of foreclosures and bank-initiated evictions.
“The perverse economic inequality we now see has caused an unacceptable number of home foreclosures and evictions,” said Loren Taylor, a representative for Occupy Our Homes. “Financial institutions have shown little regard for how this affects families and neighborhoods. Occupy has responded by putting the issues of foreclosures and evictions at the forefront of the movement.”
“If we stay quiet, it’s always going to stay the same,” Yessenia said.
Anyone wanting to participate in Sunday’s outreach should meet at 10 a.m. at Centro Autonomo, 3460 W. Lawrence Ave. Neighborhood canvassing will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday’s outreach will meet at 10 a.m. at 2655 N. Melvina Ave. Neighborhood canvassing will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And another outreach will be held Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. at Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield Ave.
For more information, call Loren Taylor at 773-750-6909.