Senior and Disability Groups Protest Wells Fargo Evictions, Shutter Accounts

Fog City Journal, December 18, 2012

Senior and Disability Groups Protest Wells Fargo Evictions, Shutter Accounts

By Christopher D. Cook

A fiery crowd of as many as 50 seniors and their supporters including green-clad, Doctor Seuss-styled grinches, rallied this afternoon in front of Wells Fargo Bank at the intersection of Market and Grant streets, calling on the national bank to halt its evictions of struggling homeowners and to change its foreclosure practices.

“Wells Fargo, I had a home but you took it back and sold it—you’re a grinch!” activists from the San Francisco Grey Panthers and Senior & Disability Action yelled under crisp clear winter skies. “I’m a kid who had a warm house to live in but you took that away from me—you’re a Grinch!”

An hour earlier, representatives from the two groups entered the bank and closed their Wells Fargo accounts to protest home foreclosures that have “disproportionately shuttered the homes of seniors, people with disabilities, and people of color,” the groups stated.

“Too many families have lost their homes due to predatory lending, dual tracking, and simple greed,” the groups said in a media release. Dual tracking involves the selling of a house even while the current homeowners are negotiating a new loan to try to keep their home. “Wells Fargo is at the center of the foreclosure crisis in San Francisco.  They have more foreclosures in their name than any of the other banks.”

Grinch-clad protesters.

Evelyn Luluquisen, Executive Director of Manilatown Heritage Foundation, admonishes Wells Fargo over its foreclosure and eviction practices.

According to their research, Wells Fargo has held 92 auctions on foreclosed homes in San Francisco—more than double the combined total of JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.

The groups demand “immediate action to stop the holiday foreclosures and evictions,” listing 27 San Francisco families who are at risk of eviction over the holidays.

“We’re encouraging all other organizations” to close their Wells Fargo Accounts, said James Chionsini, director of healthcare advocacy for Senior & Disability Action (SDA). “We can’t in good conscience support an organization that’s displacing our members, it’s just unethical.”

The rally was supported by an array of local labor and social justice groups including Occupy Bernal, Causa Justa: Just Cause, Housing Rights Committee, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Jobs with Justice, the Coalition on Homelessness, OPEIU Local 3, Poor Magazine/Prensa Pobre, Occupy Action Council of SF, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

The groups are joining forces for a “Happy Holidays, Now Get the Hell Out!” press conference and rally tomorrow at noon at 18th and Castro to share their stories about people facing evictions during the holidays. Learn more at http://www.ellishurtsseniors.org.

Christopher D. Cook is a San Francisco author and journalist who has written for Harper’s, The Economist, The Nation, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. He is the author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. You can find more of his work at www.christopherdcook.com.

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