Occupy Homes activist Nick Espinosa helps save his mom's Mpls home from foreclosure
Colleen with her son Nick.
Yesterday, a day before her home was scheduled to be sold during a sheriff's auction, Colleen McKeen Espinosa learned that Citibank agreed to change the terms of her mortgage so she can stay in the house she's lived in for more than 15 years.
That's a good story in its own right, but there's an added twist -- Colleen, 50, is the mother of Nick Espinosa, one of Occupy Homes MN's most visible activists.
Colleen told The Uptake that when she first received a sheriff's sale notice last winter, she told Nick, 26, that "under no circumstances was he to bring the Occupy Homes people to my home." But after meeting activists and attending a couple Occupy Homes rallies, she changed her tune.
"Seeing [homeowners] going through the same thing, that's when my mentality shifted where it more more, maybe the banks should be ashamed rather than the people that they're taking advantage of," she said.
Colleen, a registered and employed nurse, fell behind on her house payments when she stopped receiving $1,500 per month in child support because her children are now grown. After missing two payments, she tried to catch up, but Citibank told her "it was too late, it had already been turned over to the lawyers," Colleen told the Star Tribune.
Occupy Homes stepped in and started pressuring Citibank to negotiate via social media, a petition drive, and calls to the office of CEO Vikram Pandit. It was unclear whether the campaign would pay dividends until yesterday, when the bank said they would let Colleen pay the roughly $50,000 she still owes with a 7.5 year payment plan that reduces her monthly mortgage by one-third.
Nick Espinosa, in a press release, talked about the significance of his mother's victory and what he thinks banks should be forced to do to help people stay in their homes:
Colleen's home of 16 years. She was bracing herself to lose her house during a sheriff's sale today, but at the last minute Citibank agreed to refinance her mortgage.
This negotiation represents a victory not just for our family, but for millions of families facing foreclosures across the country. Countless families could stay in their homes if banks simply modified their loans based on the actual market value and reduced their principal, instead of the price to which banks inflated them before they crashed our economy. As with Monique White and Bobby Hull here in Minneapolis, and others standing up across the nation, we see that when a community stands behind a family and draws attention to their case, the banks are more than capable of solving it. If they can fix it for our family, they can fix it for millions of others.
Colleen, for her part, has come a long ways from not wanting anything to do with Occupy Homes. Though Citibank agreed to refinance her mortgage, she said that "if anyone should be ashamed, it's the banks for tearing apart our communities after we bailed them out with our tax dollars."
More recent Occupy Homes coverage:
-- Occupy Homes can't defend Cruz family home from third eviction attempt
-- Occupy Homes successfully defends foreclosed Mpls home against 4 a.m. eviction raid [PHOTOS]
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