Formerly Homeless Couple Wins Loan Modification

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Click on Photo to Learn About Frank Clark's Victory

Click on Photo to Learn About Frank Clark's Victory

Frank Clark will not return to the streets. After a three-year foreclosure fight and an investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General, Clark and wife Kristina Darrington — who are backed by the upstart activist group Occupy Homes MN — are on the verge of receiving a loan modification to keep their suburban Coon Rapids home. Bank of America spokesperson Jumana Bauwens told The UpTake that the bank was in the final stages of reviewing a loan modification, and Freddie Mac confirmed that “things look good” for Clark.

Clark and Darrington will officially announce their victory — the fifth for Occupy Homes — tonight at 7 p.m. during a block party in North Minneapolis for Monique White, one of the first Occupy-backed homeowners to beat the bank.

“Frank and Kristina have overcome great odds, including a history of homelessness,” said Occupy Homes organizer Ryan Stopera. “This victory allows them to sleep soundly in their home, and to continue to help others in their community.”

A press release from Occupy Homes claimed that it had won a “stunning reversal” because Freddie Mac had just recently reaffirmed its opposition to principal reduction. However Freddie Mac spokesperson Brad German disputs Occupy Home’s claim that this loan modification also contained a principal reduction.
The official offer came one day after the end of Frank and Kristina’s redemption period, which put them at risk for imminent eviction at any time.

“I haven’t been homeless in over 14 years, and now we’re looking at being homeless again,” Clark told The UpTake during a teary-eyed interview in March.

He lived on the streets of Los Angeles for nine years before sobering up, returning to Minnesota in the late 1990s and joined Local 563. He has worked on Minneapolis skyscrapers, bridges, roads and waste treatment plants, and poured concrete for the new 35W bridge. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me — that brotherhood. From coming off the streets and having nothing, to working day labor to getting a good union job, it’s been a blessing.”

But after the economic crisis and recession, labor jobs declined dramatically across the state, and Clark’s hours were cut, making mortgage payments difficult. Despite their hardship, Clark and Darrington were denied a loan modification, and were forced into foreclosure. At a sheriff sale, Bank of America bought the home back from themselves for nearly $100,000 less than the original price.

“It’s not gonna do any good to have another empty house in the neighborhood and everyone else’s taxes going up,” said Darrington. “We don’t want a free house. That’s not what we want. We would like them to come to the table with an earnest offer of what they sold the house themselves for.”

Their home foreclosure problem isn’t unique, as millions across the country find themselves in the same sinking boat.

“You see it everywhere: people moving back home with their parents,” said Christina. “You can’t throw a stone or talk to another person who hasn’t been touched by it somewhere along the line.”

Clark and Darrington are part of the “Minnesota Five,” a group of Occupy-backed homeowners fighting Bank of America foreclosure. After a mass public pressure campaign, two of the five have received modifications, including Ruby Brown, who won her home two weeks ago.

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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