Humiliated Homeowner Turns to Son’s Occupy Homes for Help

UPDATE: Citibank has reportedly agreed to stop the sheriff’s sale and has renegotiated the loan so monthly payments are one-third less.

When Colleen McKee Espinosa, a nurse who lives in Northeast Minneapolis, received a sheriff’s sale notice of June 13 from Citibank last winter, she told her 26-year-old son Nick that “under no circumstances was he to bring the Occupy Homes people to my home.”

Nick has been a visible organizer of the local Occupy Homes movement since it began defending Monique White’s house in North Minneapolis last November. The upstart activists helped White renegotiate a loan with US Bank, and also helped South Minneapolis resident Bobby Hull renegotiate with Bank of America to stay in his home. Earlier this month they lost the Cruz house, which was raided by Hennepin County Sheriffs deputies and secured by the Minneapolis Police department.

Initially, Colleen wanted no part in the movement. She felt humiliated and felt that falling behind in her mortgage was her own fault.

But attending Occupy Homes rallies at Hull’s house helped Colleen see that she was not alone: that more than 10 million Americans risk losing their homes, and that the economic system was biased to favor the banks and lending companies.

Banks, not homeowners should be ashamed.

“Seeing these homeowners going through the same thing, that’s when my mentality shifted where it was more, maybe the banks should be ashamed rather than the people that they’re taking advantage of,” said Colleen.

“I have decided that I’m not leaving my home until we get a good faith negotiation. I’m fighting to send the message to other people not to give up, because if you’re isolated you can’t fight these people,” said Colleen. “I’d tell the banks they better watch out because people are catching on to their game and a lot of people are going to fight back now.”

“My mother has struggled her entire life to keep our family afloat and give my siblings and I a better life than she had,” said Nick Espinosa, “I’ve dedicated the last eight months of my life to helping families fight against unjust foreclosures. CitiBank won’t be stealing the home I grew up in from my mom — it stops here.”

Watch this Occupy Homes-produced video profile of Colleen McKee Espinosa’s struggle:

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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