Tag Archives: Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team

Eviction Showdown – Worcester – Tomorrow (Thurs 5/4) – 9:30 am

The Worcester Housing Court has issued its tenth Execution to evict disabled foreclosure activist Marjorie Evans from her home at 158 Orient St. Worcester, tomorrow (Thurs 5/4) at 9:30 am, by Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) which claims to be the new owner.

According to Worcester resident and statewide anti-foreclosure organizer Grace Ross, this will be st least the tenth attempt this year to evict Ms. Evans.

In Ms. Ross’s words, “The Housing Court has decided to proceed with this eviction without Freddie Mac ever proving ownership and right to evict, and issued an execution while Marjorie was under a “stay” on the proceeding by higher courts (the Appeals Court, Supreme Judicial Court, and the Bankruptcy Court).”

The Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team has called for a mass turnout of members and friends to stop the eviction by blocking the Constable and movers access to the property. A dramatic confrontation is very possible. A colorful protest and a good story with many opportunities to interview participants is guaranteed.

Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team

Below, full statement by Grace Ross and the WAFT leadership team:

Friends:
 
We are writing requesting your urgent attention and assistance in the egregious eviction case of Marjorie Evans. Like, a huge number of folks, who’ve been illegally foreclosed on in Massachusetts, Marjorie Evans had a manageable disability prior to the damaging downward slide of her housing situation – starting with a declaration from Freddie Mac (who did admit to being the owner of the mortgage) that she was in default.

Freddie Mac declared her in default while she was still paying her mortgage, they stopped accepting her payments. That is where the nightmare began for her.
 
On Thursday May 4, 2017, at 9:30 am, Freddie Mac once again is scheduled to illegally evict Marjorie based on documents that Freddie Mac obtained from the Worcester Housing Court while she has a bankruptcy stay in place so that they would be able to go ahead and illegally evict her.

The stress from the years of fighting prior to the actual foreclosure of her home was bad enough. Since the illegal foreclosure of her home (known as “void”), Marjorie knew her rights enough to know that she could stay in her home. She knew that post the purported foreclosure would be her first chance in front of a Judge – where the foreclosing party would have to try to prove its foreclosure was valid, and their alleged right to possession of her home.
 
However, while Marjorie had gathered more evidence than most homeowners’ ever get their hands on in their case, and has proof, not only showing the declaration of the default while she was still paying, but numerous other legal violations – any one of which shows that the foreclosure was illegal.
 
Then, having made her first few conceptually straightforward legal motions in this case to defend her home, her health, her future, her financial base; she planned ahead and hired an attorney; she then lost her attorney almost immediately to a heart-attack. 

Having preemptively hired a lawyer knowing that she would not be able to handle these multifaceted interactions in the stress of the court, Marjorie found herself without an attorney less than a month away from the jury trial.
 
She was now confronted with the complexity of a legal trial by herself. Given the heavy stress of her fundamental right to her home being on the chopping block, her health began to deteriorate. Because of the behavior of the opposing counsel, and the Worcester Housing Court, the complex interaction of a trial situation is exactly the kind of situation in which Marjorie’s disability is profoundly aggravated and limits her handling.
 
She was then forced to request more time from the Worcester Housing Court and in doing so, she had to reveal her disability to the Judge. In strict compliance with Title II of the ADA Act, the legal history in the Massachusetts courts is: once you have informed to the Court that you have a disability that will limit your ability to participate in your case without a reasonable accommodation – it becomes the court’s job (burden) to sort out with you how the proceedings can continue to meet legal standards but also be adjusted to ensure your full participation.
 
This is especially central as a defendant defending one of your three constitutional inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property once it is under threat.
 
Instead, the Judge, once Marjorie informed the court, became the inquisitor; she forced Marjorie to endure more than 20 minutes in open court in front of opposing counsel on the public record to answer a series of invasive questions about: what was the medical condition, her educational history, her work history, her present physical limitations, her finances, and even about whether Marjorie filed taxes the year before. She did all this while making eye contact with opposing counsel when she would answer.
 
You can imagine what a gross and complete violation this was of Marjorie’s rights. In her belief that the court should be exposed for what it was doing, she allowed the questioning to wind itself down instead of, for instance, leaving against the court’s rules to protect her rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and her privacy. To leave would also to a certain extent protect her from the serious post-traumatic stress that not surprisingly has resulted.
 
That post-traumatic stress from the Judge’s unethical behavior as well as the general limitations that she would have in handling the court proceedings has rendered her unable to appear in court.
 
Backed by strong doctor’s orders that she must not participate, Marjorie has attempted (and very eloquently we might add) to defend her right to her home in writing and through numerous filings. With every single filing and every single opposition to a filing from the other side, she has included consistent requests for a reasonable accommodation that would allow her filings to be fully addressed by the court.  The court has denied each request.
 
As folks who have been backing Marjorie now for over a year, we are horrified by the destruction of this brilliant and amazing woman’s health under the grueling and incessant stress of not only the court case – but, the shocking disregard of the facts and the gist of every single filing that she has made in the Worcester Housing Court – and the absolute and complete disregard of any of her rights under Title II of the ADA Act.
 
The record is, in fact, rife with the explicit and repeated statements in writing by the Judge that she will be ruled against Marjorie simply for her inability to appear and verbally argue her case in front of the Judge.
 
This, of course, flies directly in the face of Marjorie’s personal report of her disability condition (certainly sufficient under Title II of the ADA), and the fact that she has provided two notes from physicians currently treating her and helping her manage her disability. Yet, the Court has never even approached the physicians if it had any doubt as to Marjorie’s report of her disability that she has struggled with since childhood.
 
We need your help now!  

Marjorie has managed to stave off 9 or 10 illegal eviction attempts. Evictions that are not only illegal because Freddie Mac does not own her home (given the illegality of the foreclosure), but evictions illegal in and of themselves; the Court has decided and issued Freddie Mac papers and authority to carry out evictions without Freddie Mac ever proving ownership and right to evict, and while Marjorie is under a “stay” on the proceeding by higher courts (the Appeals Court, Supreme Judicial Court, and the Bankruptcy Court).
  
The passionate and amazing commitment that Marjorie has shown refusing to have her rights to her home be taken away without her case ever being adjudicated – especially given the additional barriers of being self-represented, with a disability.  Her competence, incisive understanding and leadership are critical to our movement to end illegal foreclosures.
 
We believe her insistence that she has equal rights under our constitution to her home should be a model to everyone – as it is to us – regardless of one’s physical disabilities.  All of us should always insist and enforce our equal rights under the law, otherwise as you know, we won’t have them.
 
We cannot plead to you strongly enough for the need for your help and support in backing our courageous sister, Marjorie Evans in her fight for justice under the law.
 
Please consider the following:

• Share Marjorie’s story throughout your networks.

• Contact every elected official that you have a relationship within the state of Massachusetts. She is a constituent of the following elected officials. District Representative:

• For Freddie Mac, Melvin Watt, Director of FHFA  202-649-3001 or 202-649-3006  OfficeoftheDirector@FHFA.gov

• US Senate: Elizabeth Warren
(202) 224-4543  www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

• Congressional:                 James P McGovern phone:  508-831-7356

• State senate:               Harriet L. Chandler 617-722-1544

• State rep:                    Mary S. Keefe 617-722-2210

• Governor’s Council     Jennie L. Caissie 617-725-4015, ext. 7

• District Attorney                 Joseph D. Early (508) 755-8601
 
Further, we request your presence (and anybody you know) to help blockade this illegal eviction. If Freddie Mac continues to go forward with it and the courts are not willing to enforce the stays that they themselves have imposed on the Worcester Housing Court actions.

–     Please be at Marjorie’s home by 9:00 am this Thursday, May 4th, at 
     158 Orient Street, Worcester.

–     Honor the leadership and discipline chosen by WAFT’s leadership

–     We are calling on everyone to create a large enough nonviolent presence
     the constable will be afraid to go ahead with this illegal eviction.
 
Further, the Supreme Judicial Court, (“SJC”) of Massachusetts is aware of this situation and has been called on to act. While it is not their normal procedure to act this quickly, under the circumstances where a court has been allowed to engage in this kind of absolute egregious disregard of the rights of a homeowner – a woman of color, with a disability – without legal representation beyond her quite amazing brilliance on these issues, please call on the SJC to act now!
 
Please show a solid presence with us as we back and if necessary, some of us, put our bodies in the way to protect Marjorie Evans rights to her home, against Freddie Mac who does “not” have any legal rights to her property.  

Love,

Grace & All the WAFT Team!
 

WAFT blockade! Go, WAFT, go!!!!

WAFT1
Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team in front of Lake Ave. property

By Gordon Davis
 
On January 13, 2016, the Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team (WAFT) blockaded the foreclosure auction of two houses in Worcester Massachusetts.

The auctions were both held at 3 PM and the group had to divide its forces.
 
I went to the blockade of the auction on Lake Ave. Such blockades are suppositionally legal, as seen in the statue:
 
M.G. L. Chapter 244, Section 1
A mortgagee may, after breach of condition of a mortgage of land, recover possession of the land mortgaged by an open and peaceable entry thereon, if not opposed by the mortgagor or other person claiming it, or by action under this chapter; and possession so obtained, if continued peaceably for three years from the date of recording of the memorandum or certificate as provided in section two, shall forever foreclose the right of redemption.

The key phrase is “If not opposed.” The mortgagors with the support of WAFT opposed the auction.
 
The WAFT people were already in front of the house holding signs when I arrived. They had parked their cars in front of the house to make it a little more inconvenient for the bidders to reach the property.

The bidders parked across busy Lake Ave., which is where the bank lawyer also parked.
 
One of the WAFT volunteers tried to engage the lawyer by asking his name, but he refused to give it.

WAFT3
 
As a symbol of the blockade, the WAFT people, led by Chis Horton, held a long caution tape in front of the property and on the sidewalk. It seemed to work, as the bidders never crossed the tape.
 
The auction was held on the sidewalk, just north of the property.

Before the auction, one of the bidders asked us why should he not bid on the property. One young man tried to explain, but he eventually asked Chris to come over and talk with the gentleman. The conversation was polite, but the bidder went to the auction seemingly unconvinced by the WAFT arguments.
 
The mortgagor is Gerald who has suffered a debilitating injury preventing him from working. He is now disabled.

He has been trying to get mortgage modification with the banks for a number of years and hasn’t had any luck with them.

There is a claim of evidence of bank fraud.

Gerald had given up hope and had begun to pack his belongings to move.

After meeting with WAFT, he became hopeful and decided to fight the eviction.
 
As the auction began some of the WAFT blockaders began to chant anti foreclosure mantras. Soon the auction was over. None of the bids were acceptable to the bank. The bank bought the property back.

Gerald and his family will remain in the property, at least for a while.
 
Patricia, a member of WAFT, came late to Lake Ave., as she was at the other blockage on Lyman St. At one time she too was being foreclosed on and said that she wanted to help, as she was helped.
 
WAFT meets at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Center on Pleasant Street, in Piedmont. The group is looking for more people to help with education and other actions.

A mortgage mediation program for Worcester

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

Mortgage mediation is a process whereby during the foreclosure process, a representative from the bank meets with the homeowner relative to a mortgage workout. Getting two parties to sit down in a neutral environment to discuss the issues often yields positive results. A property lost to foreclosure lowers surrounding property values and seriously disrupts neighborhoods.

On August 19, 2013, per the Telegram and Gazette, the administration of the City of Worcester reported that it would not back an ordinance to establish a mediation program on property entering into foreclosure.
The reasons given for not implementing such a program were costs, logistics and legality:

As to costs, there are far too many volunteer organization as well as services operating under a block grant that provide free services to our courts and other programs. There are also numerous low cost providers. Cost is simply not a viable argument.
Logistically, the City of Worcester already requires a $5,000.00 bond for potential costs upon the filing of a foreclosure; therefore, someone is already assigned to review the bond and a tracking mechanism is already in place. The time involved in a referral to a mediation program is nominal.

As to the alleged legal issue, in the August 19, 2013 edition of the Telegram and Gazette, the City Solicitor claims that the Springfield ordinance is pending appeal which is mostly accurate. On July 2, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit filed by the banks against Springfield’s mediation ordinance stating “the modest effort made by the city to soften the crisis through the promulgation of the two ordinances violates no Constitutional provision or state statute.” An appeal was filed by the banks. On or about March 14, 2013, the banks offered to drop the appeal if the City of Springfield would drop the bond requirement. The cause of the appeal was not with the mediation ordinance; rather, the cause of the appeal is the posting of the bond.

Here, the City of Worcester has implemented the bond requirement but not the mediation ordinance. Take note, the City of Springfield’s bond requirement is $10,000.00 which appears more penal than remedial. The banks were willing to allow the mediation ordinance. It seems obvious that the Springfield City Council is more concerned about the bond money than solving the problem for the homeowners, unlike the City of Worcester.

Our City Council rose to the occasion last night to advise the administration that they will push forward and should. In response, the administration offered to come to the table and look at all options. Unfortunately, this means further delay in the enactment of any ordinance, but the parties appear willing to further the process. Hopefully action will be taken sooner rather than later.