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I’m staying

August 6, 2009

Karen Mims resists predatory lenders and corporate lawyers to demand her right to live and thrive in East Oakland

by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

Karen Mims is surrounded by supporters as she fights the loan company that is trying to force her out of her home. – Photo: Poor News Network
Karen Mims is surrounded by supporters as she fights the loan company that is trying to force her out of her home. – Photo: Poor News Network
“We want Oakland our way! We demand the right to stay!” Community voices in resistance to the predatory lending, eviction and foreclosure of poor folks of color rolled down 94th Street in East Oakland this week past boarded up houses – remnants of lost families, lost communities and lost cultures.

“Thanks to all of your support, my family, my friends and neighbors, I have been able to remain in my home,” said Karen Mims, resident of 9401 Cherry St., through tears to a crowd of over 50 people gathered on her lawn to support her in her year long battle with Aurora Loan Services to stay in her home of 12 years.

“My personal story is that I was with another lender, Homecoming, who never took responsibility for my loan and lost my payment and then sold my loan to Aurora Loan Services.” Mrs. Mims went on to explain that after the banker’s bait and switch game, Aurora Loan had agreed to place her in a repayment plan, but instead sent a speculator out to her home last year to inspect it for foreclosure.

“We have been besieged by lenders who write loans that people can’t afford and then lie in wait for them to default, foreclose on the loans and leave our families on the streets, which tears apart the neighborhoods of East and West Oakland,” said Ray Leon with Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid’s office in District 7, where Mrs. Mims resides. Leon concluded, “It appears that most of these predatory lenders are waiting for these foreclosures to happen.”

As I stood on the corner of 94th Street, a street littered with “For Sale” and “Foreclosed” signs, I was taken back to the not too distant past of me and my poor mama being evicted and landless in both East and West Oakland for years throughout my childhood. How no matter how hard me and my mama fought the evictions, which in our case were from rental properties, if corporate interests, rich lawyers and unjust systems were stacked up against us as they are against Mrs. Mims, we never had a chance.

For us, eviction meant homelessness. Thankfully, powerful resistance groups like Just Cause Oakland have been working in solidarity with Mrs. Mims to fight this unjust land take-over by any means necessary.

“Our fight today and this complete fight is to defend our right-to-stay zone,” declared Robbie Clark, organizer with Just Cause Oakland, placing Mrs. Mims’ situation in the larger context of “Right to the City” and “Take Back the Land” resistance efforts happening across the nation. These movements question who should be in control of neighborhoods and land and how corporations, governments and agents of the state are empowered with the ability to cause whole communities to become landless and without a roof.

The day’s rally of neighbors and advocates, reported on and supported by POOR Magazine and many more allies, ended in triumph. Because of the community pressure put on Aurora and the support of conscious legislators like Ray Leon and Larry Reid, the eviction was postponed. Now the pressure must continue.

Mrs. Mims, a soft-spoken revolutionary, closed with: “We are asking for the support of all the people involved in this battle. We can fight these battles. We can’t just keep moving on and leave people in the streets.”

How you can get involved

We must keep on the pressure. Mrs. Mims needs our support. Please call Aurora Loan Services’ legal representative Nicole Kim at (720) 945-3217 and the loan officer in charge of Karen’s loan, Carrie Black, at (720) 945-4566.

We are demanding they rescind the eviction for Karen Mims, Loan No. 0021802152. Just Cause Oakland is also asking for people to make donations to Karen so that she can stay in her home. The rent that Aurora is asking her to pay is $50 a day. If you can donate a day or part of a day, that would be greatly appreciated. To make a donation, contact Just Cause Oakland at (510) 763-5877.

PNN TV: Karen Mims and Just Cause Resist Eviction

Tiny of POOR Magazine interviews Ray Leon of Oakland City Council member Larry Reid’s office on the predatory lenders and the fight against the eviction of Karen Mims.

PNN TV: Karen Mims and Just Cause Fight Eviction and Foreclosure in East Oakland

Just Cause and community supporters gather in East Oakland to fight the foreclosure and eviction of long time resident Karen Mims.

Read more about issues of poverty and race written by the people who face them daily at www.poormagazine.org.

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