FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS CONTACT:
Willie Fleming 312-287-7228
Shirley Henderson 312-907-3961
Monday, April 27th, 2015 Toussaint Losier 773-236-0559
Press Announcement: Auburn Gresham family left with broken door, threat of homelessness, after Cook County Sheriffs, Charter One Bank Eviction Mistake
(Chicago, IL) Last Monday, Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies and officials from Charter One Bank nearly evicted the Lee family from the family’s Auburn Gresham home – by accident. That morning, the Lees had gone before a circuit court judge at the Richard J. Daley Center. Following the judge’s decision to postpone a hearing until the next day, the Lee’s returned to their Auburn Gresham home only to find that Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies had broken down their door and agents from Charter One Bank were about to begin removing their belongings – even though the judge had not issued a final ruling on their appeal. One week later, neighbors and supporters with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign will hold a rally to support the Lees and call on Charter One Bank to keep them in their home.
“We came back to court and find the door of the hinges and six sheriffs deputies in our living room,” explained Timothy Lee. “When they saw we had just come from court, they told us it was a mistake and tried to fix the door, but said they can come back out any day they want.”
Since 2013, Timothy Lee and his family have been trying to repurchase the home that his elderly mother lost to a foreclosure by Charter One Bank. Unlike most home loan foreclosure cases in the Chicagoland region, Mr. Lee’s mother had owned her home ‘free and clear’ – except for a $3,300 home improvement loan she owed when she passed in 2010. After dealing with several attorneys that failed to take their case forward, the Lees had attempted to negotiate with the bank themselves, only to find their offers to hold onto their family home repeatedly dismissed by bank officials who ultimately purchased the property at auction in February 2013. Six months ago, the Lees were finally able to arrange to have an appraiser from Charter One view the house, but never received any response from bank officials, except notices from the bank’s lawyers that they were in the process of having them evicted.
“I’ve never seen the Sheriff and the Banks evict some one and then say it was a ‘mistake’. Its only a mistake because this time they got caught in the act,” explained Willie Fleming of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign. “Charter One Bank should do the right thing by keeping the Lees in their home and Sheriff Dart should make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Monday’s eviction left the Lees with a broken front door and a host of unanswered questions. Contrary to established policy, Sheriff’s officials removed their “No Trespassing” sign and returned possession of the property to the Lees when they discovered that their court appeals were still pending before a judge. While taking note of the damage done to their home, officials from Charter One first said they would find a way to keep them in their home, yet in the days since, their calls into the bank have once again been met with silence. The Lees remained concerned that this is taking place because officials from Charter One Bank are more interested in profiting off of the foreclosure insurance they can claim when the home is empty, than the money they would make from the sale of a South Side home that has declined in value.
“We grew up in this neighborhood and this house is all our family has,” explained Timothy Lee’s wife, Eugenia. “I don’t understand why Charter One won’t even tell what they need us to pay to keep our home. Instead, they want to put us out on the street while we are meeting with the judge.”
Described as a “mistake” by sheriff deputies and bank officials from Century 21, last Monday’s events are part of worrying trend, where officials from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office are partnering with bank officials to go ahead with evictions even when foreclosed homeowners and tenants have secured a stay of eviction pending a judge’s ruling on their motion. Last year, a change to Cook County’s eviction law that would have made this process legal was in a bill drafted by Illinois State Representative Monique Davis (D), but the measure failed to pass the State House. Without a change in the law, the sheriff’s office has moved forward under what seems to be a new policy that denies struggling families any sense of due process and sides with the same financial institutions that have left large swaths of the South and West sides blighted by most of the Chicagoland’s roughly 60,000 vacant buildings.
What: Press Conference for the Lee family
Where: Lee family home, 8143 S. Morgan Ave, Chicago, IL 60620