Sunday, January 1, 2012

Activists Fight to Stop Duluth Home Foreclosures

After a foreclosure notice ran in Duluth's paper, one area woman felt like her world was crumbling. But this week, activists inspired by the ‘Occupy Movement’, show the community how they plan to keep the long–time neighbor's home alive.

Chores for Ann Lockwood just aren't as easy as 10 years ago. Since then, she's lost 135 pounds but the weight of medical and financial issues still press down on her.

"I used to be a surgical tech and I made really good money. And I got hurt at work and had to have surgery. I got a surgical infection which lead to 28 surgeries and 21 months in the hospital which is why I lost the leg,” Lockwood said.

After more than a million dollars in bills that were covered by benefits, she also lost her job.

"And with my skill set, nobody would hire me especially because I was still in a wheelchair at that point and I didn't have a prosthesis,” Lockwood said.

Her home of 18 years hung in the balance of a State Farm mortgage that soon overwhelmed her checkbook as the snow blanketed her lawn for the holidays.

Community members, like Donna Howard, took notice.

"Her home here will be sold at a sheriff's sale on January 19 unless we can change things in the meantime which I fully believe we're going to do,” Howard said.

Collecting petitions, Howard leads "Project Save Our Homes". That is an occupy-movement-inspired effort focused on preserving housing as a human right.

"It is grievous that our society has come to be one that accepts this. Where there's no personal contact. Nobody who's making decisions about Ann’s mortgage knows Ann. The mortgages are sold out of the community, they go to a bigger bank and a bigger bank and they forget that this is a human being,” Howard said.

And it's not like Lockwood would have a clean slate if the group succeeds (she'll still have bills to pay during her slow recovery) but she says hopefully there will be renewed understanding from a financial giant.

"Now the mortgage company seems to be willing to work with me so there is a light on now at the end of the tunnel that I thought was permanently blackened,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood currently holds down three jobs and is completing a second round of school.

If you would like to sign a petition to help save her home or if you have housing problems of your own, call Donna Howard and “Project Save Our Homes” at 218-724-0169.

> The article above is by Jacob Kittilstad of KQDS TV.  The original story, together with a video piece, can be viewed here at the KQDS website.

No comments: