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Defenders of the fortified home known as #FortHernandez, in Van Nuys, California. It is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week by at least one person who sits on couches in front of the barricade.

By Marlon Stern

VAN NUYS, CA—On August 24, 2012, Occupy San Fernando held a “foreclosure BBQ” at the home of Ulises Hernandez, 21, at 14620 Leadwell Street.  That night marked the last moments before the final five-day notice to vacate their home of six years had passed. It also marked a night when the community decided to fight Bank of America by building a barricade and staying in the home. The barricade was built from household objects and furniture easily found on neighborhood streets. There are 173 other foreclosed homes in the 91405 zip code and the neighborhood is littered with left behind furniture.  The fortified home known as #FortHernandez, is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week by at least one person who sits on couches in front of the barricade. 

Fifty days into the fortification, the Sheriff’s Department did not appear at Fort Hernandez.  The LAPD, however, has continually harassed activists as well as neighbors. On the morning of October 4, police took couches as well as family pictures. They cited homeowner Javier Hernandez, 35, for the barricade and brother Ulises for couches “blocking the right of way.” A day after appearing in court for couches, Ulises was arrested on his street by undercover “narcotics” officers driving an unmarked car. They used a snatch and grab tactic. He was released the same day after posting $560 bail on a charge of fair evasion.  Cars have been impounded. William Gagan was arrested and held two days for blocking the sidewalk after he heard gunshots unrelated to Fort Hernandez and walked over to see what was happening. The Los Angeles County Department of Family and Children threatened to take Hernandez’s youngest brother, Adrian, 5, because the house has, “No running water or electricity”—another fabrication.    

Countrywide wrote the loan in 2006. That year Countrywide wrote 20 percent of all U.S. home loans. The mortgage jumped from $3,900 a month to $4,600 overnight in 2008.  That year, Bank of America bought Countrywide for $4.1 billion. That year Bank of America promised to modify 400,000 loans. That year the bank told the Hernandez family to stop paying their mortgage to prepare for loan modification. Three attempts to modify the loan were made and the family was denied each time. In 2011, Bank of America cut an $8.5 billion deal with BNYMellon to clean up toxic loans. That year, the Hernandez home was placed up for auction by BNYMellon. That year, Bank of America paid a $335 million settlement regarding allegations that poor Latinos and Blacks were steered towards high interest rate loans by Countrywide.

The Hernandez family has seen no settlement and had never heard of BNYMellon before 2011. After widespread media coverage of #FortHernandez, Bank of America contacted the family to modify the loan a fourth time. They were denied again. The family is resilient as it is unclear which bank has the mortgage, and it is clear that the loan is problematic. The community stepped forward at events to help and to ask for help. As of this writing, there are two other homes in Southern California that have used the #FortHernandez tactics. They are #FortLucero in East Los Angeles and #CasaPerez in Anaheim, California, which was approved for a loan modification as of October 17, 2012.

By Joseph Peery

"When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was sixty percent of a person. Today another curious formula seems to declare that he is fifty percent of a person. Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites, of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites." —Martin Luther King Jr.

CHICAGO—During the last week of September, two apartments with elderly heads of households received ' Ten Day' eviction notices. Both live in the same building at Parkside of Old Town which was built to replace Cabrini Green. The families want to remain anonymous, but feel a need that their stories be told.

The man is a 79-year-old retired mechanic who is illiterate and can't read or write his own name. He was forced to move into Parkside when his Cabrini building was scheduled for demolition. If evicted now, he has nowhere to go. The woman, 78-years-old, is an amputee confined to a wheel chair with a host of medical problems requiring her to go to dialysis treatment as well as surgeries. The last thing she needs is the stress of an eviction.

The ten-day notices charge the seniors with "consistent" violation of some of the "One Strike" provisions in the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) lease which holds thatyour lease may be terminated if tenants, occupants, guests, invites, any one in their unit and persons 'under their control' engages in criminal activity that threatens the life, health, safety, or property and/or disturbs other residents peaceful enjoyment of their accommodations. These rules apply to CHA residents and no one else. The notices further accuse an alleged guest of one household and an occupant of the other of stealing UPS packages, with video footage to back it up. There have been no arrests and neither family has been shown a police report.

On October 11, around 9:30 P.M., according to the elderly man, he awoke to knocking at his front door. When he opened the door, a man and a woman forced there way in saying they were there to see the apartment. They walked and looked all through his dwelling and then left, ignoring all his requests to identify themselves or their reason for being there. His family believes they were from the building's condo association, which manages the building, but not the CHA apartments in the building. When the family put up a notice in the lobby requesting help in identifying the assailants, it was taken down. The next day, when the family attended an informal grievance hearing which they requested, they were admonished for putting the notice up, by Holsten Management Corp., which manages the CHA apartments in the building.

There is a general feeling among CHA residents living in these mixed income communities that we are not wanted here and any and all opportunities will be taken to get us out, even to the extent of throwing a little old man and little old lady who have done nothing into the streets as another cold Chicago winter approaches.

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Corporate takeover of public housing.
Cartoon/Andy Willis


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 800-691-6888
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