Bank Organizing: Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Campaign
In 2007 City Life/Vida Urbana (CL/VU) noticed the increasing number of foreclosure evictions in housing court. Supporting tenants to stay in their homes led us to launch the Post Foreclosure Eviction Defense Campaign. Since 2008, eviction defense has been the thrust of (CL/VU) organizing strategy to halt housing displacement for working class people both tenants and homeowners.
Foreclosure evictions have disproportionately affected communities of color, and reasserted our mission to work toward racial justice as well as confronting bank power with collective people power.
Using a model and strategy CL/VU refers to as “the sword and the shield”,
- The Shield-Legal Defense: We work closely with tenant and homeowners informing them of their rights through legal services assistance, education, and ongoing casework and legal advocacy.
- The Sword-Direct Action: Encouraging residents to stay in their homes, we organize blockades, vigils and other public actions to exert public pressure on the banks. We then draw on the potential of a non-profit bank, Boston Community Capital, to purchase at current real value the homes of foreclosed residents and where possible to resell it to them.
Three elements of our strategy have led to success in reducing housing displacement and fostering movement building:
- Building Individual and Collective Power. We encourage tenants and other residents to find their voice and take a stand to stay in their homes in the face of eviction. We support them in joining the Bank Tenant Association (BTA). The BTA mobilizes people as a group to fight foreclosure, builds community solidarity and new leadership for the growing movement.
- The collaboration with legal services organizations, their staff and students;
- The partnership with Boston Community Capital (BCC), a non-profit financial intermediary committed to preserving healthy communities for low-income people