Drawing a line in Portland

December 12, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore.--Approximately 75 neighbors and supporters of people who are about to lose their homes held a press conference organized by We are Oregon outside the home of Debbie Austin in the northeast of the city as part of the December 6 National Day of Action to Occupy Our Homes.

Debbie has lived in the home for 25 years with her husband Ron and their two grown kids. In 2007, Ron was diagnosed with cancer, as well as having his wages and hours cut at work. In 2009, Debbie was diagnosed with cancer and had back surgery.

Medical bills piled up and the family filed for bankruptcy. They got a couple of months behind with mortgage payments, but still paid their payment and late fees. Even so, the family was given the runaround by the bank and they are now in foreclosure. Debbie, choking back tears, told the crowd:

We belong here, and we are not moving. Like many other families around Portland and across the country, we are drawing a line in the sand. My friends, neighbors, supporters and members of "We are Oregon" will stand with us against any eviction notice. We will stand with others in foreclosure, too. It was tax money that was used to bail out the banks and the government made money available to help out homeowners. Now it's time for these agencies to do the right thing. That's all we're asking.

Maura St. Martin, a single mother with an 8-year-old son, is also in danger of losing her home. Maura's mortgage was sold to a new owner, who, Maura says, used fraud and deceptive practices to put her in the situation she's in today. Her home has been illegally foreclosed, and she is now facing an eviction notice. She has an attorney and is hopeful that the courts will see the fraud she has endured.

Maura stated, "There is a legal definition of the fraud perpetrated against me. However, just because the other families here aren't claiming fraud doesn't mean there isn't something that has gone extremely wrong here in America."

Holding back tears, Maura continued:

This holiday season, I intend to stay in my home, despite a letter telling me to leave. I am taking a stand with the people here, and they are taking a stand with me, because our homes are more important than bank profits, and we are more important than bank profits. We ask that all foreclosures are halted, because keeping our homes is a basic human need and right.

Unsettle Portland, an affiliate of the Take Back the Land movement has vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with those facing eviction.

Portland has shown it can turn 6,000 people out on the streets at 1 a.m. to stop the police moving the Occupy Portland encampments in downtown. We must build on that solidarity and show the banks and their 1 percent that the 99 percent shall not be moved.

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