Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vigil to defend the Henry family-- from Steve Meacham

Monday, Dec. 13, 6:30 pm

24 Upton St., Cambridge (near Central Sq.)

(runs between Magazine and Pleasant Sts. , about 6 blocks from Central Sq. toward Charles River)

This property has been with the Henry family for over 50 years! It is currently occupied by Nancy Henry (the mom – 76 years old) and Bobby (her son).

Nancy was having trouble paying her mortgage and was scammed by someone offering “help.” That “help” turned out to be taking over her home at a very low price. Her home was then “flipped” to a straw owner for a much larger amount of money. That owner was a straw because the mortgage from the start was more than her gross income. The Henry family became a tenant in the home they formerly owned.

The straw owner went into foreclosure almost immediately. Provident Bank took back the property and began eviction proceedings against the Henry family. The straw owner/buyer denies any knowledge of the transaction and is willing to sign an affidavit to that effect. Why didn’t Provident stop this sale?

In July of this year, they signed an agreement for judgment to move out Dec. 1, 2010, because the District Ct. judge said they would be thrown out more quickly if they didn’t. This was despite the fact that they were days away from a new law passing that would have made it impossible for Provident Bank to evict them, since they were tenants.

At this vigil we will demand that Provident stop the eviction while any one of several solutions are explored.

* Purchase by a Cambridge non-profit as an affordable home ownership homeor rental.
* Acceptance of reasonable rent from the family. Freddie Mac, the government controlled bank, is involved in the property. It is their announced policy to take rent, not evict. Why not here?
* Overturning the original scam sale and thus the foreclosure also.

Other cases
St. Simon: We did a vigil for the St. Simon families in Hyde Park Nov. 26. Because of the vigil Aurora Bank changed course and indicted they would negotiate around offer to buy that would stop the eviction of the families. Those negotiations are difficult and we are alert to the possibility of an eviction blockade this week.
Barzola: We did a vigl for the Barzola family Oct. 13 in Randolph. Fannie stopped the viction for a while to consider taking her rent. There has been no resolution and the deadline is Dec. 15. We are alert to the possibility of an eviction blockade next week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Struggle is Necessary- The Struggle is Working

Monday, Sept. 13 – A day of struggle against the banks
City Life and the Bank Tenant Association plan TWO protests to defend their members against bank evictions.

When: Monday, September 13
Time & place: 9 am, 8 Inwood St., Dorchester for eviction blockade to defend Martin Ovalles
6:30 pm, 48 Mansfield St., Everett for the vigil to defend the Dumerant family
Visuals: Large banners and signs
Street theater featuring a piggy bank knocking on fake doors of homeowners

Contacts: City Life/Vida Urbana 617-524-3541 – Steve Meacham (x310 or 617-909-6182),
Melonie Griffiths (x315 or 617-318-8670) or Jacqui Molina (x303)
Interviews with Martin Ovalles or the Dumerant family can be arranged

“A Bank on REO property described Boston as ‘ground zero’ of the anti-foreclosure movement,” said Melonie Griffiths, an organizer with City Life. “We’re very proud of that. We’ve won a lot. We will continue to defend our members and build our movement. In Boston and in the suburbs.”
The group plans a double protest on Monday, September 13.
1. In the morning, they will stand in the doorway at 8 Inwood St. Dorchester to block the eviction of Martin Ovalles, the former owner. Martin is willing to pay rent but Deutsche Bank won’t accept the rent.
2. In the evening, they will hold a vigil at the home of the Dumerant brothers and their family at 48 Mansfield St. in Everett. The Dumerants were negotiating to repurchase their property when GMAC broke off negotiations and continued the eviction.
City Life/Vida Urbana, working with legal services and a non-profit lender (Boston Community Capital), has achieved what seems to be impossible in other cities – getting back people’s homes after foreclosure with a big principal reduction to current real value. This nationally recognized program has done it through aggressive eviction defense. Over and over, City Life has held vigils and eviction blockades at people’s homes, protested at Wall St. Bank branches, and testified at legislative hearings. A big victory arrived when the state passed a new law to outlaw no-fault post-foreclosure evictions of former tenants by the banks.
But this victory does not cover former owners. “We were thrilled when the legislature passed the tenant protection law and the Governor signed it,” stated Steve Meacham, also with City Life. “But we will continue to also defend owners against no-fault evictions until the Banks end this immoral policy.”

The Ovalles case
Martin Ovalles owned a triple decker at 8 Inwood St. He was foreclosed and is now the only one left. He is willing to pay rent. AT his last court appearance, the judge asked the Deutsche Bank/HomEq representative why they would evict this man and his 8-year old daughter when they could just sell it occupied. The Bank refused and continued the eviction. The constable is coming Monday morning, Sept. 13. City Life will seek to block the eviction.

The Dumerant case
Pierre and Prudhomme Dumerant and their families occupy the two units at 48-50 Mansfield St. in Everett. Their family includes 4 school age children and an elderly mom. They were foreclosed as a result of inability to pay the mortgage on the bubble price. But they can afford a mortgage at current value. They are willing to accept a limit on future profit (if there is any). The families were approved for a new mortgage with Boston Community Capital. BCC entered into negotiations with the lender, GMAC, on July 28, 2010. They disagreed on price, but slowly the gap began to close until they were only $35,000 apart. Then GMAC signed a purchase and sale with an outside investor and continued the eviction. The Bank seeks to evict after Sept. 16. City Life plans a vigil Monday evening, Sept. 13.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ROC Summer Institute 2009

Just a couple of the upcoming workshops offered this summer. Contact City Life for more info....

Identifying the Local Power Structure
Meets Saturday, July 11, 1-3 at the CLVU office, 284 Amory St. (in the Brewery), JP
This workshop offers power analysis tools. 1) power mapping: this process is about building grassroots power as well as doing a power analysis of targets; and 2) power/political landscaping exercise: a participatory/collective process that can be used to illustrate and monitor shifts in power during a campaign/organizing project.
Contact: Camilo,, 508-674-7146

Health and Fitness for the struggle /Bike Riding
3 Saturdays -- July 11, 25, and August 1; meet at the CLVU office, 284 Amory St. (in the Brewery), JP
Two sessions on nutrition, one on diseases we face as we get older, one on physical fitness and training programs. The training session will involve actual exercise.
Facilitator: Paula Taylor, physical trainer, bank tenant

Friday, May 1, 2009

What is moral?

"If Deutsche Bank forecloses on Joe Schmoe the best they can do is to sell that property at real value. So if Joe Schmoe can afford the property at real value, why not sell it back to him? But the only reason the banks aren't doing that is because of what they call moral hazard. They say basically that homeowners should be punished because they signed these loan documents.

These are the same guys who have run our entire economy into the ground and who have been rewarded with billions in taxpayer bailouts and have used billions of that money to give bonuses to the very executives that drove their companies and the whole economy into the ground. And they are citing moral hazard as the reason why they can't resell that property to the existing homeowners at the real value. That is disgusting and hypocritical and in the extreme." Steve Meacham on Bill Moyers Journal May 1, 2009

The Message Comes Through Loud and Strong on Bill Moyers Journal

The word is being heard more and more clearly: people can stand up to the political and economic powers that have created the rules that benefit the few at the expense of the many; our institutions are accountable to the people. Thank you Steve and Melonie and Roxan and Jim and Mary and .....everyone at City Life! Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PROTEST BANK OF AMERICA Copley Sq. Boston 4/29 5 - 6 pm

Why we are here at Bank of America Protesting!


·        Workers didn’t cause this economic crisis—but we sure are paying the price. We’re getting foreclosed on, laid off, and the CEO’s are making millions.

·        Taxpayers have had enough, bank workers have had enough, and its time to make some real changes if we are going to create an economy that works for everyone again.

·        B of A takes our taxpayer money and pays themselves bonuses. And still have the nerve to fight the rest of us getting a fair share by fighting Employee Free Choice Act, credit card protections, and foreclosure victim protection. Reforms that would help our economy.

·        Bank of America took $45 billion in taxpayer bailouts which makes us the largest shareholders. Then, after taking our money, they announced plans to lay off 35,000 workers ¾ but still paid $5.2 billion in corporate bonuses.

·        B of A CEO Ken Lewis took home close to $35 million over the last 2 years. But the average bank teller makes $22,000 a year, barely above the poverty line. That is just plain wrong. 

·        Ken Lewis and other CEOs like things the way they are. They get rich at our expense. And they don’t want that to stop. That’s why they’re fighting Employee Free Choice Act that would help put money in working people’s pockets. Today, I’m here to say that business as usual is over for big bad banks.  

·        Bank of America made millions off of risky loan and deceptive practices, and as a result is one of the largest holder of foreclosed properties and is responsible for evicting thousands of people across our state.


What we want:


·        We need Congress to act now to hold banks & these CEO’s accountable. Banks can’t be allowed to use our tax dollars to fight against:

  • The Employee Free Choice Act that will give workers a voice on the job and better wages and benefits.
  • We want an end to foreclosures and evictions
  • Real banking reform that will stop banks from doing the things that got us into this mess in the first place and make sure they can’t rip us off with high interest rates and forcing their employees to sell us products we don’t need.
    Access to quality & affordable health care for every single person living in this country.

·        Workers in America need an economy that works for everyone.  Not more of the same.


Steve Meacham 4.29.09



Monday, April 27, 2009

City Life/Vida Urbana Receives Award From the National Community Reinvestment Coalition

On March 13, 2009 City Live/Vida Urbana received the James Rouse Award for outstanding work by an urban non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. at the annual National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) dinner.  The award was presented by the Rev. Jesse Jackson who spoke at the event.  Roxan McKinnon, Steve Meacham and Melonie Griffiths accepted the award on behalf of City Life/Vida Urbana.

Following are the remarks of Nadine Cohen, of Greater Boston Legal Services, who introduced the City Life/Vida Urbana awardees:

It is my great pleasure to present the James Rouse Award for most outstanding non-profit organization to City Life/Vida Urbana from Boston, MA.  CL/VU is one of the most innovative, effective and kick-ass grass roots organizations in the country.  Begun in 1973 in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, they have been involved in tenant organizing, the struggle to preserve affordable housing, organizing against racism and for community control of public resources. 

CLVU has played a major role in the current foreclosure crisis - trying to stop foreclosures and eviction in Boston’s neighborhoods.  They bring together tenants facing eviction and homeowners facing foreclosure to support each other and to develop effective strategies to keep people in their homes.  They hold eviction blockades where they bring out community members to surround the homes of the tenants being evicted, preventing the constables from carrying out the evictions.  In 2008 they were successful in preventing 11 out of 14 evictions.  They got arrested in 3 of the blockades, but because of the all the bad publicity for the lenders, and the support for the tenants, those too were victories.

In addition to helping tenants and homeowners negotiate the sales of their homes after foreclosure – sometimes at half their pre-foreclosure value – CLVU also holds public protests against Bank of America, protesting their unfair foreclosure policies.  City Life/Vida Urbana has recently begun to surround foreclosed homes with crime scene tape saying, “White collar crime scene.”  They are a strong and consistent voice against predatory lending and unfair foreclosures.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

It is my honor to present the James Rouse Award for outstanding work by an urban non-profit organization to City Life/Vida Urbana – very disciplined non-conformists, who stand up for what is right and who lead the way by their actions.

Nadine Cohen

Managing Attorney

Consumer Rights Unit

Greater Boston Legal Services