ACORN Breaks Into Foreclosed House to Restore it to its Former Owner

by Elie Feasley and Frotchy (Baltimore-Washington NEFAC)

At 3pm on Thursday, February 19th, fifty members and supporters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) gathered outside a boarded-up rowhome in Highlandtown. ACORN representatives handed out t-shirts printed in black, red, and white proclaiming a foreclosure-free-zone as the crowd of supporters grew. Followed closely by reporters and news cameras, the group used a pair of boltcutters to remove a padlock, broke down the door, and entered the house. Louis Beverly, an organizer with ACORN, declared, "This is our house now!" after cutting off the lock. The house was formerly owned by Donna Hanks, a fiery woman who has seen her life turned upside down by an adjustable rate mortgage and mounting bills. She was evicted last month after falling victim to foreclosure. Clearly exhausted and embittered, but eager to continue the fight, she proclaimed, "This place is gutted. This is wrong." She will soon begin moving back in to the house. Before they left, ACORN replaced the lock on the door with one belonging to Hanks.

The action kicked off ACORN’s "Take Back Your House" campaign in Baltimore, which aims to both draw attention to the foreclosure crisis and return evicted homeowners to their dwellings. The most critical areas have been identified as being Tuscon, AZ, Oakland, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Contra Costa County, CA, Orlando, FL, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, and Houston, TX. On February 19th, in each of these areas, homesteaders broke into foreclosed properties and restored them to their original owners. In this case, Ms. Hanks lost her house a year ago due to an adjustable-rate mortgage that jumped as much as $300 in a month. When it became clear that the payments were increasing faster than her income could, she tried and failed to renegotiate her loan.

While there was no police or other antagonistic presence at the action, it is unclear what legal repercussions may follow this act of civil disobedience.