by Carol Harvey
The Occupy the Auctions and Evictions Campaign has put out an urgent action alert to the public to help stop Wells Fargo’s eviction of 63-year-old African American foreclosure and eviction fighter Kathryn Galves, her elderly sister and their dog from her San Francisco Noe Valley home at 1164 Church St.
On Tuesday, March 20, Supervisor John Avalos held a press conference on City Hall steps where he and his colleagues, Supervisors Campos, Chiu, Kim, Mar and Olague called for suspension of all San Francisco foreclosures. Before the press conference, Kathryn told this reporter, “I am on the sheriff’s calendar for tomorrow.”
Speaking to supporters and housing activists, she repeated Wells Fargo’s intention to evict her the following day, Wednesday, March 21.
To Kathryn’s great relief, however, Occupy Bernal’s Stardust stepped in, telling the crowd they had obtained a one-week postponement of Kathryn’s eviction to Wednesday, March 28. To Kathryn, this postponement felt like a stay of execution.
Wells Fargo’s previous City Hall auction sale of $1,081,000 failed to turn up a buyer for her very valuable home. But more than its financial worth, this widow’s residence, which she has owned for 40 years, is crucial for her continuing health and safety – even her life.
Despite the crushing pressure brought on by the specter of imminent eviction, Kathy seemed remarkably calm. “I might be relaxed because I do yoga. But other than that, it’s all internal and it’s affecting a lot of my organs.”
Kathryn’s eviction threat is making her ill
Kathy has multiple medical problems. Her out-of-control blood pressure has led to progressive multi-organ shutdown – “problems with my kidney, my heart, my lungs, pulmonary edema, fluid retention in my body.” For several years, she has worked with her doctors to find a blood pressure medication to stop spikes as high as 245/71. “Now it’s 40/81,” she told me, “but my doctor still wants it to go lower because the closer to normal the better chance of my organs not getting more damaged.”
Back-to-back eviction and medical deadlines put Kathy under the vice-like stress that endangers most foreclosure victims’ health. On March 28, her postponement date, she also has an appointment with a urologist for her kidney problems.
The anxiety she feels for herself, her elderly sister and their dog is worsened by the threat of losing computer connections and a C-PAP machine for her sleep apnea.
Kathryn’s entire income is from her fixed annuity and her sisters’ live-in caretaking.
A military widow, Kathryn purchased her home in 1972. In the intervening years, its increased value prompted her to invest in out-of-state property with a Section 8 (subsidized housing) tenant whose defaulted payments lost her money on this investment.
Kathryn filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which Wells Fargo challenged, causing her home foreclosure. Wells Fargo followed this with an attempted sale at auction on the steps of City Hall. Because no one bought the home, it became “bank-owned.” Then Wells Fargo filed for the sheriff to evict Kathryn, her sister and their dog.
As recently as December 2011, Kathryn had found a neighborhood business man willing to purchase her home and allow her, her sister and their dog to remain as renters. “There was a real estate investor in my neighborhood that wanted to buy my house from the bank. The bank is not cooperating.”
Despite many requests by both Kathy and her prospective buyer, Wells Fargo has consistently refused to be present to bargain about selling the home to the buyer.
When the sheriff’s deputies made a pre-eviction visit, they directed Kathy to the Eviction Defense Collaborative, where she promptly went for help. She learned of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) at Avalos’ March 20 foreclosure suspension press conference, where she spoke and garnered much-needed community support.
According to ACCE’s Erin Franey, she and Grace Martinez, community organizers, will meet with Kathy tomorrow, March 23, Friday, to decide how ACCE can become involved and discuss next steps to save the home.
You can help Kathryn Galves, her sister and their dog keep their home
“Subject: URGENT: Postpone eviction of Kathryn Galves, 1164 Church St., San Francisco, Loan No. 0044722973”
“Please immediately direct the San Francisco Sheriff to postpone the eviction scheduled for Kathryn Galves and family at 1164 Church St. in San Francisco. Kathryn has Wells Fargo mortgage loan no. 0044722973 and has found a cooperative buyer for the property who is willing to retain her and her sister as tenants. Please set up a meeting right away with the Wells representative empowered to negotiate a sale of the home, Kathryn, and the prospective buyer.”
- Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, call (866) 878-5865 and email email@example.com
- Wells Fargo Assistant Vice President for Communications Ruben Pulido, call (415) 852-1279 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wells Fargo Director of California Governmental Relations Alfredo Pedroza, call (415) 396-0829 and email email@example.com
- Wells Fargo Board of Directors, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Planned events to help Kathy:
- Sign up at http://occupytheauctions.org/wordpress/?p=588 for a shift of eviction defense on Wednesday, March 28, at the home of Kathryn Galves at 1164 Church St. near 24th Street in San Francisco.
- Join and invite your friends to the Facebook event for this eviction defense March 28 at 5:30 a.m.: https://www.facebook.com/events/199695646806610.
- Join and invite your friends to the Occupy Wells Fargo Noe Valley protest from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. Download and distribute the protest flyer, at https://www.facebook.com/events/151817174941259.
Carol Harvey is a San Francisco writer and videographer whose work is published by many Bay Area periodicals. Email her at email@example.com.