Mortgage Meltdown: Social Unrest begins to surface

Take away a person’s home and you strike a blow to their hearts. Movements like this will likely increase until real relief occurs for borrowers. So far, we have seen relief for investors, investment bankers, banks etc. — anyone with big money and a lot of clout. But individuals, banded together, have far more clout — financially and politically — than any of the money interests.

The real cost

Roxbury woman loses home after yearlong process

A Roxbury woman who has been playing tug of war with her mortgage lender for more than a year finally lost the battle yesterday when she lost her home and four protesters were arrested.

Fifty protesters chanted in front of Paula Taylor’s slate blue condo holding homemade signs as officials from Bank of America Corp. ordered her to vacate the Perrin Street home. Meanwhile, police ordered the removal of four people who chained themselves to the rail on the steps in back of the house, blocking movers from getting inside and taking out Taylor’s belongings.

“Our point was to cause a ruckus,” Taylor said. “To create a peaceful ruckus and take a stand.”

Roberta Jones, 60, of South Boston; Rebecca Pierce, 64, of Dorchester; David Burton, 34, of Arlington; and Adam Machson-Carter, 23, of Arlington were arrested on trespassing charges. They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Two other protesters were chained to the front of the house, but were not arrested because they were not blocking movers.

It was the eighth blockade planned by City Life, a Jamaica Plain nonprofit that has been working to end the run of foreclosures and evictions in Boston neighborhoods. But it was the first time there were arrests, said Steve Meacham, a City Life community organizer.

With the foreclosure crisis, more people could be turning to groups like City Life for help. Warren Group, a Boston real estate publishing firm, said Tuesday that foreclosure deeds in Massachusetts increased 34 percent in July from a year ago, but declined slightly from the prior month. Petitions to foreclose, the first step in the foreclosure process, rose 43.4 percent to 502 in July from 350 the previous month.

Taylor sought City Life’s help in July when she received her first eviction notice from her mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp., now owned by Bank of America. The group organized a protest with 60 people in front of her home, and at the last minute, the bank decided to allow Taylor to stay for 30 days and agreed to discuss the situation with her and a city mediator.

In a statement yesterday, Bank of America said Taylor rejected several offers for assistance and promised to leave the property within 30 days of the first eviction order on July 15th.

“Countrywide is committed to do what we can to assure that process is carried out with as much compassion and dignity as possible,” spokesman Rick Solomon said in the statement. “This has been an ongoing goal in working with Ms. Paula Taylor for more than a year.”

Taylor said she didn’t get any offers of assistance, but she did receive the second eviction notice in the mail on Wednesday. She said she offered to pay rent or have a relative buy the property, but said the bank wasn’t willing to work with her.

Even though Taylor has lost her home, she said she still feels victorious. “For me to take this very public stance on a private matter, it is helping others realize this is a national crisis.”

Meanwhile, City Life said the arrests will not stop it from protesting. The group has four eviction blockades planned this month.

“We are making a statement that will lead to a movement that will hopefully lead to change,” Meacham said. 

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