Protesting Neighbors Halt Home Auction
By Talia Ehrlich Dashow Lynette Neidhardt, an Oakland homeowner for the past 23 years, had filled out forms and done everything the bank had told her to do in an attempt to avert foreclosure. Despite her efforts, she was told that her house, where she is still living, would be auctioned off on the steps of Alameda County Courthouse. Joining with her friends and neighbors Nov. 12, just a few hours before the property was to be sold, she staged a protest at US Bank offices in Oakland, chanting “Stop the auction, stop the sale today!” She and her friends showed up in person ask for more time, to make sure that the bank could not avoid listening. Providing support were members of the Oakland chapter of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), which is working to resist foreclosures. There was no manager at the bank and no mortgage office. So far, no one at US Bank had sat down with her to discuss renegotiating her mortgage, she said, although she says that federal law requires someone at the bank to meet with her face to face. Over the months, Neidhardt said, she has been bounced from department to department, asked for utility bills, pay stubs, tax forms, always one more piece of paper, and told after they received everything, then they would talk with her. But it never happened. Neidhardt paid her mortgage for the past two decades operating her own graphic design business, which closed during the economic downtown. Now, she has three part-time jobs, including substitute teaching, but the bank does not consider the employment to be stable enough. “I paid my mortgage with contract work for 23 years, but the bank doesn’t like the contract work I am doing now, and they think it’s not enough,” she said. Bank clerks on Friday at first refused to call a manager at another branch. They did try, however, to get the dozen protesters out of the bank by calling security and police, who stood by and watched. Finally, a teller put Neidhardt in contact with Regional Manager Helen Anderson. Neidhardt agreed to take her angry friends outside to give the manager time to call the foreclosures department to take her house off the auction. Finally, the protest was successful. The auction was postponed for one month, though a woman named Jennifer in Media Relations she could not comment on what will happen next and would not discuss the details of the case. Neidhardt is meeting with legal advisers, her neighbors and AACE to decide what she will to encourage the bank to renegotiate her loan. To contact Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), call (510)269-4692 and go to extension 2 for the Home Defenders League.