AN EVICTION IN SOUTH CENTRAL
- *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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