Left: Members of the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League with today's list of Sheriff's sales from foreclosures
I attended a press conference this afternoon held by local residents who formed a group that plans to fight the record number of foreclosures in the area. The Toledo Foreclosure Defense League plans to use non-violent tactics of civil disobedience in an effort to keep Toledoans from being evicted from their homes, according to group spokesperson Keith Sadler.
The group plans to establish "community defense teams" that will arrive at homeowner’s property and risk arrest by non-violently interfering with evictions. If the eviction has already taken place, noted Sadler, the group plans to "move those people back in."
"If we have to, we will make the Sheriff's Department look like the Nazis they have to be when they evict people," he said.
Sadler said the group will consider such options as picketing, directly blocking foreclosure and eviction actions, and even "interfering with Sheriff sales" in order to keep people in their homes. The group is also studying the option of finding vacant properties to move homeless people into.
Also in attendance today was Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who said that Toledo-area residents have gotten a "bum deal from the powers that be for a long time."
Konop noted that the proposed actions of the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League were "not unprecedented," and that this sort of grass-roots activism is occurring throughout the Midwest.
"What we see is a serious imbalance of power here," Konop added. "In DC there are thousands of lobbyists descending on the halls of Capitol Hill, and they are getting trillions of taxpayer dollars."
Konop issued a similar call to the Sheriff earlier in the month for a 90-day foreclosure moratorium, but Lucas County Sheriff James Telb so far has refused to follow the lead of sheriffs in jurisdictions such as Cook County, IL, Butler County, OH, and Wayne County, MI in halting evictions.
Left: Elsie Jarrin of Toledo
Among the attendees were a number of people who face imminent foreclosure and eviction. Elsie Jarrin attended the event on behalf of her daughter, Dawn Price, whose home is in foreclosure. Price, a single mother of three children who is also eight months pregnant, has been rebuffed by Deutsche Bank in every effort she has made to get an extension.
"Dawn offered to pay rent until June, after her baby is born, but the lawyer for Deutsche Bank said his client refused," she said. "Deutsche Bank gets $11.8 billion in bailout money, but they can't help a pregnant mother with three kids. Unbelievable."
Jarrin also noted a new phenomenon that lurks as a result of the rash of foreclosures and evictions: escalating rental costs. Her daughter missed out on three rental properties in what amounted to bidding wars between potential tenants.
"This weekend she received an email from the landlord advising her that even though she was the better candidate, some people came along with $2,000," she said. "Wit the economy the way it is, they had no choice but to rent to them."
Manuel Gonzales described how the three homes he owns are in foreclosure after the collapse of his contracting business. Gonzales called for greater activism to end the foreclosure sales.
"Power comes in numbers, and we have to stick together," he urged. "The only way we can fix this is to stop those Sheriff sales. Period."
If you are facing eviction or foreclosure, you can contact the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League by email at foreclosuredefenseleague AT gmail DOT com. You can also call 419-931-6517 or 419-304-2098 to speak with a representative of the group. The Toledo Foreclosure Defense League will also be hosting a public meting on March 31 from 5-7PM at the Mott Branch Public Library (1085 Dorr Street).