In the past three months SAFE has made significant strides. We’ve engaged in our first eviction blockade. In early May the King County Sheriff posted an eviction notice at the home of SAFE member Jeremy Griffin, and dozens of supporters set up tents in Jeremy’s yard conducting a round-the-clock vigil. At a SAFE press conference in front of Jeremy’s home, with nearly all the local TV, radio, and print media present — except the Seattle Times, the “guardian” of our region’s Fourth Estate — we framed our protest and blockade as a struggle between the robber barons of finance capital and a hard working ironworker who is willing and able to pay to stay in his home. The media reported our story virtually without edit.
Fearing their reputations might be sullied, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, who’s names are on the suit to evict Jeremy, denied having anything to do with his foreclosure and eviction. Instead they blamed Wells Fargo. (What? no loyalty among thieves?) But Wells vehemently denied complicity. So as these three international global behemoths trembled, Jeremy returned to court and explained that the banks themselves have refused to admit ownership. The court agreed giving him a stay of eviction for five weeks. Then the newly elected King County Sheriff decided to weigh in. He told Jeremy if he had his druthers he would never evict him, yet he must follow court orders, but he offered to defer the eviction until he can set up his own press conference in front of Jeremy’s home. It’s now the Sheriff’s move. The spectacle unfolds.
While fighting to save Jeremy’s home, SAFE has launched a campaign against Routh Crabtree Olsen (RCO), the law firm representing the banks, and Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), the trustee handling over half of WA’s foreclosures. Of their many questionable practices, the most damning is that RCO lawyers own NTS, a company that by law is required to be a neutral party between the bank and the homeowner. Two local law firms have brought this conflict of interest to our attention and are working closely with SAFE. Further, within the last five months the courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who’ve sued law firms and trustees with similar ties. The implications are staggering. If the courts find RCO/NTS has a conflict of interest, it could put their auction sales — nationally, 48,000 per year — in legal jeopardy.
Tied into our attack on RCO/NTS is a SAFE letter writing blitz to all families whose homes are scheduled for sale by NTS. This is producing better homeowner responses than any previous mailing to date.
As a result of these very public campaigns, more area homeowners are hearing about SAFE. Our numbers are increasing. Our goal is to reach a critical mass, which we believe is about 100 families willing to fight to stay in their homes and to build a movement for social and economic justice.
– Stephen Price, SAFE Volunteer
Housing is a Human Right!
Fri., July 26: Demand Delivery to RE/MAX: Meet at 3:30 PM at the SAFE House. We will proceed from there.
Fri., July 26: Demand Delivery to Banks: To immediately follow the above RE/MAX action.
Wed., July 31: Bankbone’s Localize This! Summer Camp begins. See backbonecampaign.org for details.
Fri., Aug. 2: Auction Protest at Northwest Trustee Services: For Larry and Flor.
Jeremy’s Eviction Blockade: We are attempting to clarify the Sheriff’s position, but for now we are taking him at his word that he’ll give us reasonable notice before he evicts. As soon as we hear from him, we will text you via the Rapid Response Network (RRN). If you’d like to add your textable phone number to the RRN, please visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org, click on JOIN RRN, and sign up.
Lawsuits: SAFE is investigating filing lawsuits against Routh Crabtree Olsen and Northwest Trustee Services (see below). These lawsuits will cost $$$$$$$$$. If you would like to donate to SAFE, please visit our website, SAFEinSeattle.org. We love your support. Thank you!
This Past Week
July 19: SAFE members held a lively press conference in the private garage of Routh Crabtree Olsen (RCO), the banks lawyers, and Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), the foreclosing company that boasts having the greatest geographical reach of any trustee in the US. Together they comprise a vertically integrated foreclosure mill, owning a title company, property management company (to handle vacant property), and newspapers (to post their foreclosure ads). We held the press conference at their auction while it was underway. Two problems with RCO/NTS: (1) NTS is supposed to operate as a neutral party, dealing in good faith with both the homeowner and the bank, but RCO’s lawyers own NTS. How can a homeowner expect fair treatment when the “neutral judge” is owned by the bank’s attorneys?! (2) According to WA State law, all auctions are supposed to be held at “a designated public place” — not in RCO/NTS’s garage!
July 20: On behalf of Jeremy, SAFE members protested in front of Wells Fargo in Kent while Wells took homeowners on a tour of low-priced homes. As soon as we arrived, the Wells Fargo promotional ad man packed up his things and left. People from the next door farmers market and passing motorists gave us enthusiastic support. (Everyone hates the banks!)
July 23 − 25: Evonne and Olu, representing SAFE, attended a national meeting in NYC of Right to the City to discuss what groups around the country are doing to fight foreclosures and evictions.
July 25: The City of Renton has shut off Sonia’s water. Since she doesn’t have enough money to pay both her mortgage and her water bill, she opted for the former. Unfortunately, no public or private emergency aid groups will help her. Today, she delivered a letter to the Renton Utilities Dept. offering to do community service to get her water turned back on. While she awaits their response, she brought her dirty dishes to City Hall and washed them in the men’s bathroom after checking it was empty. (Because her videographer is male, she decided it’d be better to wash them in the men’s room rather than having a male in the women’s room.) After finishing her dishes she and her videographer walked outside and were confronted by a police sergeant called by someone in City Hall. The officer claimed Sonia’s being in the men’s room caused a public disturbance. When Sonia told the officer her water was shut off, the cop said that the only concern here is that a woman should not be in the men’s room. The officer than told Sonia and her cameraman to leave the property. ADVISORY: IN THE CITY OF RENTON A WOMAN WAS SEEN IN A MEN’S BATHROOM. Also, an unknown number of Renton residents have no potable water.
Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events
Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!
Sundays, 5:30 – 7:00 PM: Weekly SAFE Active Member Homeowner’s/Bank Tenant’s Support Group: Also at 6230 Beacon Ave S.
You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.
Thoughts & Opinions (SAFE welcomes written opinions from all of its supporters. If you have a letter or comment you’d like to include in the Thoughts & Opinions section of this Newsletter, please e-mail info@SAFEinSeattle.org. Opinions must be informative, relevant to the foreclosure/eviction crisis, and consistent with SAFE’s mission and principles.