Anti-foreclosure activists crowd mayor's office - Rybak does not support foreclosure moratorium, says aide
Rosemary Williams, Linda Norenberg and thirty of their supporters crowded into Mayor Rybak's office on a rainy Wednesday morning. The mayor was out, it transpired. So was his chief of staff. Could the office call the mayor? No. "He doesn't have meetings with people who just stop in his office," said mayoral aide Erica Prosser.
"I'm losing my house, me and my kids are," said Norenberg, a Robbinsdale woman who is struggling to avoid foreclosure. "We don't have time to wait for his schedule."
"We believe that if GMAC or US Bank or some other bank walked in here, the mayor would have a face to face, "Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign organizer Cheri Honkala told Prosser.
Over the next hour, the thirty people crowded into the mayor's office would ask Prosser and fellow aide Sherman Patterson for specific recommendations to get Wiliams's home out of foreclosure and prevent Norenberg's from falling into it. The aides recommended that the two call the city's 311 information line. For Norenberg, this wasn't enough. She said that she had struggled for the past six months to find a program which would help her modify her mortgage so that she could afford both her house payment and basic neccessities for her family of seven, calling every program the city recommended. Although she qualifies for the Obama loan modification program, Norenberg says, she cannot find a bank which will work with her in accordance with the program. She is baffled as to why, when the city and various nonprofit agencies have received money to help homeowners, so few are being helped.
"I went through the same thing she's going through," said Williams, describing her own struggle to prevent her house, where she has lived for the past 55 years, from falling into foreclosure. Williams criticized the city's anti-foreclosure program as insufficient and even actively harmful, saying that its "reinvestment" component was only helping real estate speculators grab foreclosed properties, "regentrifying our community," particularly in substantially African-American North Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis City Council supports a voluntary moratorium on foreclosures. Activist Mick Kelly asked Prosser whether the mayor's office shared this view.
"The mayor doesn't support a moratorium on foreclosures," said mayoral aid Erica Prosser to the crowd. "Research has shown that a moratorium on foreclosures doesn't help people stay in their homes."