Occupy Homes Holds Vigil as Foreclosed Cruz House Goes for Sale

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Last week the boards and barriers came off windows and doors of the foreclosed Cruz house in South Minneapolis. But not so the Occupy Homes-backed immigrant family could move back in.

Lender Freddie Mac put the home on 4044 Cedar Avenue South on the market following a heated battle over the house early this summer between Occupy Homes activists and Minneapolis police and Hennepin County sherifs officials. Prospects now look even bleaker for the Cruz family to reclaim the house they bought from PNC Bank and claim they lost due to an online payment error by the bank. According to Occupy, Enterra Realty broker Roman Dziuba is currently shopping the home.

Occupy held a candlelight vigil last night at the Cruz house, will continue to hold vigils all week, and will also hold a press conference Thursday at 3 p.m. Green Party Vice Presidential candidate, and Occupy supporter, Cheri Honkala, is scheduled to speak. At last night’s vigil, Occupy organizer Jillia Pessenda encouraged 20 activists in attendance to call Enterra broker Dziuba and press him not to sell the home to anyone but the Cruz family.

“Freddie Mac put the home on the market, even though PNC is willing to renegotiate,” said Pessenda. “We demand that (Freddie Mac) sell this house back to the Cruz family. The calling campaign starts tomorrow.”

Occupy stomached more bad news yesterday. Bloomington homeowner, and Vietnam veteran John Vinje — a mainstay at Occupy demonstrations over the past year — reported that his wife was Lucinda was evicted from their foreclosed home yesterday morning, throwing wrench into the Vinjes’ plans to win a loan modification for their home. John Vinje spoke at the candlelight vigil at the Cruz house.

“Hopefully this prospective buyer will understand that they really don’t want this property because we’ll be here until we can get the Cruz family back into the home where they belong,” promised Vinje. “We’re gonna keep fighting. It’s the same story with us as it is with the Cruz family. Freddie Mac needs to buckle down and start negotiating with these people.”

Last month, Vinje joined a caravan of struggling homeowners to Washington, D.C., where they staged demonstrations in front of lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae headquarters. They also sought the audience of Federal Housing Finance Agency director Edward DeMarco, who has drawn the wrath of progressives for refusing to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to participate in a White House program that provides principal reduction for troubled homeowners.

“We had pizza on DeMarco’s front lawn, and we let him know that unless he starts getting things straightened out with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, we’re gonna come back and visit him a lot more often,” said Vinje. “We’re gonna become his new best friends.”

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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