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Help Save the Vinjes’ Home: Petition Enclosed

6:46 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

There’s a couple in Minneapolis, the Vinjes, that wants to negotiate with their bank and save their home. Unfortunately, their bank is USBank, so a little outside persuasion is going to be needed:

John Vinje and Lucinda Adams-Vinje bought their home in 2008 for 148,000. Their payment was roughly $1,300 per month on a 30 yr fixed term. It was the 1st home that either of them had ever purchased. John had been an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam war before working for many years as a security officer. Lucinda had a well established 10 year career as a TSA agent at the Minneapolis airport. Lucinda chose the home because she had grown up in the South Metro area and her work is nearby. She also happens to love the house. John says “I’m not sure why, she just loves it.”

In July 2010 John and Lucinda entered into a trial separation. Lucinda wanted to stay in the home and John agreed. But by September she realized that she would not be able to float the payments on her own. She asked John if he would be willing to add his name to the mortgage and help her stay. John agreed for his income to be used in order for her to qualify. He claims that because of poor communication from the US Bank rep that was not informed that he would actually be the legal guarantor of the mortgage, until he was sitting at the Closing table. At that point he felt he had no choice and signed the papers, even though he was lied to and felt violated. The new refinance cut $200 off the original payment but raised the principal balance. In the meantime the value of the home had fallen by more than $50,000. This new “deal” had put them even more underwater.

By July 2011 John and Lucinda had repaired their relationship and John had moved back into the home. Their combined income of $3,000 per month was more than enough to make the $1,100 monthly payment obligation. What John did not know at the time is that Lucinda had fallen 2 months behind on the refinanced loan payments and US Bank was now demanding full payment. John called the Bank to explain their relationship status, that they could make the agreed payments, and that even though they couldn’t pay the full 2 months of arrears they would be more than willing to make partial payments on the $2,200 balance until it was paid in full. US Bank refused and began foreclosure proceedings.

If they do nothing they will lose their home in April of 2012. This Air Force veteran and his wife have worked their entire adult life and now stand to lose the only home that either has ever owned.

What US Bank doesn’t realize is that John and his wife are fighters. They, along with a growing number of Minnesota homeowners, have taken a pledge to stand with their community and fight for their home.

John had this to add: “Their refusal to work with us is an outrage. Do you know how much the C.E.O. of US Bank made last year? 18 million dollars! And yet they want my house that’s only worth $80,000. Well you know what? I’m not gonna let them have it!”

Sign the petition here.

Occupy Folks Seek to Save Minneapolis Professor’s Home

1:35 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The members of the Twin Cities branch of the Occupy movement might be under near-constant official harassment, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve given up their efforts on behalf of those of us in the 99%. Just as they worked earlier to get another foreclosure victim the needed time and aid to move her and her disabled father to a new home, they’re now, with Nick Espinosa taking a key role, working to keep a Minneapolis university professor in her home:

A few dozen protesters moved into 3334 25th Avenue S around 2:30 in the afternoon. The house was formerly owned by Sára Kaiser, pronounced “Shara,” an adjunct professor of anthropology at several universities in the Twin Cities (including the University of Minnesota). Occupy Minnesota wants to help Kaiser reclaim her home and bring attention to the foreclosure crisis.


Kaiser, 43, is a single mother to an 8-year old girl. She’s a Hungarian immigrant who moved here in 1998. Kaiser put down 20% on the house, about $40,000, several years ago. $10,000 came from her grandmother’s will in Hungary.

She said she’s been trying to renegotiate her mortgage with US Bank for a year and a half. The bank, she says, has basically blown her off by offering her workshops on how to better manage her money.

“I don’t even drive a car. I don’t eat out,” Kaiser said. “I buy used clothes, I use public transportation.”

Despite the arrests of two Occupy members — one of whom was shoved around by a squad car in an effort to get him to move — the Occupiers were able to hold the space until the homeowner arrived on the scene.

As it turns out, they were able to Occupy the home overnight — very likely in part because there was some question as to who currently owned the property — but shortly after noon today, the police came back in force:

MPD booted in the door of the second foreclosed home, occupiers have left peacefully. Emergency meeting 5pm at MARS 3458 Minnehaha Ave S

Will Professor Kaiser get her home back? Stay tuned.

OccupyMN: Homegrown Organizers Use DIY Media to Charm Local Press

3:53 pm in Media, Politics by Phoenix Woman

Progressives across the country have been bemoaning the quality of coverage of Occupations by the mainstream media in regional markets. It seems that’s it’s been difficult for many of the Occupiers to make themselves heard in their local media.

This hasn’t been a problem for the folks of Occupy MN — at least, not one they haven’t been able to surmount. Consider the clever, widely reported videos recently made by Nick Espinosa and friends touting Occupy Minnesota’s efforts on behalf of foreclosure victim Ruth Murman. For far less than the cost of running a TV or radio ad even once, even in the local media, the OccupyMN folks have with their Murman videos managed to capture the imaginations — and the news cycles — of the various mainstream print, TV, and radio outlets. This is a triumph of the concept of “earned media”, without the interference of “cool seekers” who see the Occupy movement mostly as the next new shiny thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Facing Foreclosure? OccupyMN Can Help! (Seriously!)

10:51 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

One of the less-known effects of the Occupy movement is that nationwide, many homeowners from New York to Washington state to California have been able to stay in their homes for at least a little while longer thanks to the aid of the Occupiers.  Banks that didn’t return phone calls pre-Occupy are now working with homeowners on deals that at the very least allow the homeowners extra time to get moved to a new home, or even to keep the one they have.

Click on the video above to see how one satisfied customer describes how OccupyMN helped her deal with her bank.  Read the rest of this entry →