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Occupy MN: Under pressure, Wells Fargo may halt couple's foreclosure

This week, we told you the story of Malcolm LeFever and Cheryl Downey, and their struggle with Wells Fargo over their underwater mortgage. They received a foreclosure notice late last week despite two years of trying to work out a loan remodification with the bank.

The couple planned to march to Wells Fargo with Occupy MN this afternoon to demand an audience with someone in the building in a last ditch attempt to save their Richfield home.

Well, it appears the story caught someone's attention at Wells Fargo corporate.

"I was so surprised to get the call," LeFever told City Pages the day after the story ran. "I wasn't even thinking clearly."

LeFever and Downey have lived in their house for nearly 20 years and raised a family there. Then, at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, LeFever lost his job and by 2010 stopped being able to make his mortgage payments on time. At that point, the couple requested a loan remodification from Wells Fargo.

The letter every homeowner dreads.
The letter every homeowner dreads.

But two years later, no progress has been made. LeFever says he submitted all his paperwork repeatedly, but has never even talked to someone in person about his situation. Last Friday, he received a foreclosure notice from the bank, with a sheriff's sale date of November 22.

Frustrated, LeFever and Downey agreed to go public with their story as a part of today's "Don't Foreclose on the American Dream" march on Wells Fargo. Protesters from Occupy MN and several labor organizations like SEIU, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, and Minnesota AFL-CIO, will meet in Peavey Plaza at 3 p.m. and march to Wells Fargo at 7th and Marquette. Part of the group's demands was to fix the LeFever-Downeys' mortgage.

But after City Pages profiled the couple on Wednesday, LeFever says he received a call from Wells Fargo headquarters out in California. He says the woman said she was with the executive office of the bank, and promised to get in contact with whoever had been handling his modification. Lefever says the woman promised to work with him.

"Getting a phone call like that makes me very hopeful," he says.

Kevin Whelan, who reviewed LeFever's case for Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, was encouraged by the news, but points out that the house's foreclosure is still scheduled and that nothing is fixed until LeFever gets a modification offer in writing.

"This isn't a victory, that's just customer service," he says. "You need a worldwide uprising against the banks and an article, and you get a phone call."

LeFever and Downey will still be participating in the march this afternoon, and the protest demands will converge around yet another homeowner in need of a modification from Wells Fargo. Whelan says St. Paul resident Sharonda Orridge has been trying for three years to get a modification from the bank, and has a loan type so predatory it was banned by Minnesota legislation.

The protest today brings to a head a week's worth of marches and demonstrations as Occupy MN continues to evolve. We'll keep you posted as the action unfolds.

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