Occupy the Hood Foreclosure Resistance Crumbles on New Year’s Eve

For many, the loan modification process is getting out of hand. Javier Hernandez lost his job, his father was deported and the value of the home he bought for his mother seven years ago plummeted. Despite all this grief, however, Javier appeared to still be current on his payments, according to this article in the Dissident Voice. Things started going wrong when “at the recommendation of the bank, he stopped making payments in order to receive a loan modification…”

The Dissident Voice hails itself as “a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice” and certainly the story it tells of Javier Hernandez and his family feels colored by a homeowner’s bias. Nevertheless, so many of the details contained in this account ring true and force the bankruptcy and foreclosure community to continue to assess whether the loan modification process has done any good for the homeowners in our country.

Like so many other homeowners who are struggling to pay the mortgage, Javier strategically defaulted so that he can better qualify for the loan modification. Also like so many others, he is repeatedly denied. The denials lead to a modern form of civil resistance:

The Hernandez family built a barricade across the front of the property announcing “Government By, Of and For the People.” They decorated their roof in Christmas lights proclaiming “Evict Banks” with members of Occupy San Fernando Valley, Occupy the Hood, and the Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign. For 123 days, they staved off the Bank of New York-Mellon with the support of grassroots groups across Los Angeles.

The anti-eviction campaign came to an end on December 29, 2013 when police and the sheriff stormed the house at 4:30 a.m. (Unlike some sheriffs, who suspended foreclosure sales before the holidays.) No one was hurt in the incident, but the Hernandez family was finally forced from their home.

Homeowners sign contracts in exchange for receiving money, yet the belief that families must not lose their homes has eclipsed this fundamental basis of our system of laws. The story of the Hernandez family’s resistance, and its eventual fall, makes for a compelling saga of race/class struggle, but there is a larger question: has our country begun to feel entitled to receive loan modifications? If so, is this feeling a fundamental change, or simply a response to the housing crisis?

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