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  • Leslie Radford
    *by Ramona for LAAEC* LOS ANGELES, January 24, 2013--One more person might end up on Skid Row, adding to the 85,000 homeless in Los Angeles, because of an
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 27, 2013
      *by Ramona for LAAEC*

      LOS ANGELES, January 24, 2013--One more person might end up on Skid Row,
      adding to the 85,000 homeless in Los Angeles, because of an eviction
      yesterday. At noon, sheriff's deputies drove into the Broadway-Manchester
      neighborhood of South Central and changed the locks on the door of
      72-year-old Cathelene Hughes' home of nine years.

      Mrs. Hughes' story is too familiar now. In 2012, the U.S. saw an estimated
      2.1M foreclosures, nearly double the rate in 2006 when the banks began
      their assault on U.S. homeowners, grabbing their investments and their
      property. In the intervening six years, nearly 20M families have been
      displaced. The lieutenant at Mrs. Hughes' house admitted that the Los
      Angles County sheriffs evict more than 3000 people each month.

      Mrs. Hughes story is unusual, too. The spirited grandmother enlisted the
      aid of the Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign, and together they leafletted
      door to door and block to block in this downscale community to ask for her
      neighbors' help. She went to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas's office, and he
      called the county's Community and Senior Services. They promised her a
      social worker and gave her the number for the Elder Abuse Hotline. She
      dialed that number two weeks ago, the first time the sheriffs came to evict
      her. They left.

      [image: Inline image 1]

      *Cathelene Hughes (l) with LAAEC in front of her home*

      This time, it was a neighbor who saw the sheriffs pull up just after Ms.
      Hughes left her home to run some errands. He called her, and he called
      LAAEC. His phone call got her back to the home in time to rescue her pet
      chihuahua Prince before the sheriffs snared the pet in a wire loop at the
      end of a catch pole, and she was able to put some clothes and her telephone
      charger in her car.

      Mrs. Hughes is another victim of bank fraud. Her income was inflated on her
      loan application, and her mortgage nearly doubled after just two years. Ms.
      Hughes explained, �I was denied a modification ten times because my loan
      was adjusting. I had no idea it was an adjustable. A guy from Countrywide
      called and told me that it was adjusting a couple weeks before they did it.
      Then he explained the situation to me.� Mrs. Hughes has paid thousands of
      dollars to people promising to negotiate modifications.

      Bank of America, which took over her original lender Countrywide in 2008,
      sold her house to Colony Realty, even as her bankruptcy application, which
      would have given her time to find an attorney, was pending in court. In the
      intervening six months, not only Bank of America, but Colony tried to wash
      their hands of culpability, passing off the property to its subsidiary,
      Colfin. At Wednesday's eviction, the notice in the window said the property
      now belonged to a company called Signature. �That's my property, and I knew
      it was illegal, the fraud they committed. I never received anything from
      the bank saying that my property had been sold, or that anyone had
      purchased it,� said Mrs. Hughes. She hasn't been offered a penny of the
      government settlements with Bank of America for fraud and discrimination.

      Cathelene Hughes, an ardent Obama supporter, learned a hard lesson, as
      people often do when their human rights are snatched from them. Musing over
      what happened, she concluded, �The L.A, Sheriffs are not protecting the
      people. They're protecting the investors who are stealing our homes.
      They're being paid to let the investors take property from homeowners. Our
      elected officials aren't backing the citizens who are trying to build
      neighborhoods, homes, they're letting investors come in and take people's
      properties. When it comes to voting, they promise us this, and they promise
      us that, but they still throw the people out. We'll be fighting this until
      it turns around, and I know I'm in the fight until it turns around.�

      The social worker hadn't returned Mrs. Hughes's daily, sometimes hourly,
      calls over the two weeks since the first arrival of the sheriffs. This
      time, a call to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas's office got a response in hours.
      Community and Adult Services had found a $200/month bed for her at a
      women's shelter on Skid Row. Mrs. Hughes and Prince decided instead to see
      if her aunt would take her in for a few days. After all, she was still
      hopeful that she would be back in her home soon. Before she drove away, she
      confided, �I'm feeling good because I know that I will prevail and get my
      property back. I'm a little disgusted because the system is not helping me
      keep my property. It went along all this fraud that's going on.� With a bit
      of fierceness, she added, �The whole system is corrupt.�


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