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Protesters call on Bank of America to curb post-foreclosure evictions

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent / December 21, 2008
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Some two dozen protesters braved subzero windchills yesterday in Dorchester to send a message to Bank of America.

In front of the bank's Fields Corner branch, activists carried signs and chanted "Housing is a human right" while calling on Bank of America and its subsidiary Countrywide Financial to stop post-foreclosure evictions. The protesters, led by Jamaica Plain-based advocacy group City Life/Vida Urbana, are calling on banks to renegotiate bad mortgages or allow foreclosed homeowners to pay rent to the bank to stay in their homes.

"It is time to mobilize the country behind programs that save the livelihood and promotes the welfare of all of us, not just Wall Street bankers," said Grace Ross of the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, who supported the protest, in a statement. "A genuine rescue plan does not allow massive layoffs. It does not allow evictions of people who are doing their best to pay their mortgages or make their rental payments. Rather, it invests in the lives of people as the strategy to pull our country out of the hard times that are upon us."

The group has been advocating for Paula Taylor, who made news in September when City Life protesters were arrested as she was being evicted from her Roxbury home after a yearlong struggle with Bank of America.

Steve Meacham, a City Life community organizer, said yesterday that more protests at Bank of America branches are planned.

Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said that foreclosures are costly for everyone involved, and that Bank of America takes them "very seriously."

"Once Fannie Mae [releases its full list of changes], we will review our policies and procedures," Bauwens said about the bank's policy on post-foreclosure evictions.

City Life is lobbying Beacon Hill for a moratorium on so-called "underwater foreclosures," in which the value of a home has sunk below the amount owed on it.

At the end of the demonstration, protesters delivered a letter to the bank branch manager detailing their demands.

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