Foreclosed and Evicted in
By David Bacon
TruthOut Perspective - July 27, 2009
OAKLAND, CA (7/21/09) -- At eight in the morning on Monday, ten Alameda County Sheriffs arrived in their patrol cars in front of the tan house on the corner of Tenth and Willow in west Oakland, the oldest African American neighborhood in the city, and one of the oldest on the west coast. The renovated home is surrounded by an iron fence, and the sheriffs poured through its open gate and up the stairs.
Tosha Alberty had just left for work, for her job as a transportation services coordinator for
Sheriffs had threatened to evict the family before, an action stymied when a local locksmith, seeing that he was about to shut the family out of their home, had refused to cooperate. This time, however, a more compliant locksmith drilled out the door locks so the family couldn't get back in. Other workmen nailed sheets of plywood over every window to keep the Albertys out. And a new brass and steel padlock was fastened to the gate.
Tosha Alberty and her husband James, a cancer survivor, had lived in the home with four children and two grandchildren for four years. Tosha had grown up in the same neighborhood, and had been househunting for a long time when she found the place in 2005. Although she was unemployed at the time, her mother had died and left her a little money. She talked with a real estate broker, who pushed her into a non-conforming loan with no down payment, with First Franklin Mortgage Services.
"I thought my loan was for $520,000, and that I'd be paying $2800 a month," she recalls. "But I discovered that it was for $550,000, and the payment was much more." Alberty got a union job with the county, though, where her husband had also worked. She barely made the payments. But then the monthly installments ballooned to close to $5000. "I knew I couldn't do that," she says. "But when I tried to renegotiate them, they said that since I'd been paying before, they wouldn't help me. So I stopped paying." The loan went into default.
The lender was bought by Merrill Lynch in 2006.
Merrill Lynch closed in last year's meltdown, and was bought for $50 billion by Bank of
$2.4 billion, it's second straight profitable quarter since the mortgage crises started, despite losses from bad loans. No wonder. The bank received $45 billion in bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
None of that money is going to the Albertys though, despite promises that the bailout would enable the renegotiation of loans, and keep people in their homes.
Bank of America, however, did spend $2.3 million in 2008 on lobbying Congress, and another $1.5 million this year. The bank wants flexibility on how it spends that TARP money, with fewer restrictions on huge bonuses for executives, on fees for credit card holders, and even on home mortgage lending to other
ACORN Home Defender Martha Daniels, who herself had been threatened with a foreclosure eviction, held an impromptu press conference that afternoon in front of the padlocked iron gate. She vowed, "We will find a way to put Tosha and her family back into this house. There is no justice here." Representatives of city council members and a county supervisor announced their support.
As Tasha Alberty leaned on her brother and cried, though, her father Charles wondered, "There's something wrong with this country. My daughter just needed a house for her family. What was she supposed to do?" he asked.
Just given the C.L.R. James Award for best book of 2007-2008 by the Working Class Studies Association:
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants From Beacon Press:
For more articles and images on housing and hunger, see http://dbacon.igc.org
See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the
See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (
David Bacon, Photographs and Stories
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs