In a Precedent Setting Move, Bank of America Deeds Back House Back to Catherine Lennon Without a Mortgage
Rochester, NY – On Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:30am Take Back the Land Rochester will hold a press conference with Catherine Lennon at 9 Ravenwood, Rochester, NY 14619 to announce and discuss the significance of Ms. Lennon’s historic foreclosure fight victory. Lennon, who was called “the Rosa Parks of the foreclosure crisis,” by former Obama Administration official Van Jones gained national attention when she defended her home from eviction and then committed a daring act of civil disobedience by openly moving back into her foreclosed on Mother’s Day of 2011.
After 5 year struggle–a death of loved one, a foreclosure, a community outcry, three eviction blockades, two weeks of eviction watch, one bank eviction where seven people were arrested, Ms. Lennon moving back into her house without permission, State Supreme Court judge calling off a second eviction attempt, the foreclosure law firm foreclosing on her house imploding in disgrace—Catherine Lennon can finally call 9 Ravenwood Ave. hers again. Most incredibly, the public records reveal that Bank of America conceded absolutely by not only deeding the house back to Lennon, but wiping out the mortgage completely as Take Back the Land Rochester and other community members had called for. “This is a sweet sweet victory for me and family, I’m beyond words. I’m filled with joy,” exclaimed Lennon.
Timeline of Catherine Lennon’s Epic Struggle for Her Home
January 2008 – Ms. Lennon’s husband’s passes away from brain and lung cancer.
April 2008 – Although Catherine continued to make mortgage payments, as soon as Countrywide/Bank of America received the death certificate from Ms. Lennon they refused to accept any more mortgage payments and refused to speak with Ms. Lennon about the loan.
Summer 2008 – Even though the Lennon-Griffin family was willing and able to pay, it soon became clear that Countrywide was not interested in working with the family. Countrywide didn’t want their money and instead moved to aggressively foreclose on the house in order to collect their lump sump foreclosure insurance payment from Fannie Mae. The bank was in such a hurry to foreclose that they hired foreclosure mill Steven J. Baum as their attorneys they robo-signed documents making an already immoral foreclosure a fraudulent and illegal foreclosure.
February 2010 – Countrywide/Bank of America completes the foreclosure and sells house to Fannie Mae for $500.
March 4, 2011 – By March, Fannie Mae had already been granted the eviction and Ms. Lennon was waiting for the City Marshal to come. Going door to door in outreach to people being facing foreclosure Take Back the Land Rochester comes to 9 Ravenwood Avenue and meets Catherine Lennon. After testifying about her struggle and how she had tried all possible options to keep her home, Take Back the Land Rochester informs Ms. Lennon there was another option–a community defense of the house. Ms. Lennon emphatically joins the movement and pledges to stay in her home despite orders from the bank, judge, and police to leave.
March 14, 2011 – When the Rochester City Marshal came to evict the family, he was greeted with 80 protesters in Ms. Lennon’s front lawn and four people chained to the porch as part of nonviolent eviction blockade seeking to stop the eviction. The Marshal was turned away.
March 15, 2011 – The marshal and movers once again attempt to evict the family and move their belongings out of the house and they were met with protesters, eviction blockaders, and hordes of media. After a two hour standoff, the movers drove off.
March 15-March 28, 2011 – Take Back the Land Rochester and neighbors organized an eviction watch encampment where community members would take shifts watching out for the authorities every day from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday (when an eviction can be carried out in New York State).
March 28, 2011 – The City of Rochester teamed up with Fannie Mae to execute a stealth SWAT-like eviction with 20 Rochester police and special operations forces. The police blockaded the street and attempted prevent the media from accessing the scene. The Rochester police arrested 7 people, 5 of which committed an act of civil disobedience by trying to block the eviction form being carried out. 2 others were arrested away from eviction as police tried to clear out all observers including a 70 year old retired nurse in her pajamas who was concerned about her neighbor being evicted
April 1, 2011 – Van Jones, a community activist and former Obama administration official, recognizes the significance of the fight calling Catherine Lennon the ‘Rosa Parks of the foreclosure crisis’ in an article in Huffington Post
April 2011 – Catherine Lennon is displaced to a local Motel 6 and begins negotiations to get her house back. In the end, Fannie Mae attempts to extort her by offering the house back for $50,000 without financing even though her husband bought the house for $30,000 in 2006 and Fannie Mae bought the house for $500.
May 8, 2011 (Mother’s Day) – In dramatic act of civil disobedience, Catherine Lennon, tired of being homeless and realizing the Fannie Mae had no intentions of seriously negotiating, was moved back into her house with the help of Take Back the Land Rochester and without permission from Fannie Mae. And she’s still there.
May 9, 2011 – Catherine Lennon and Take Back the Land Rochester publicly announced that Ms. Lennon had defied the banks and the authorities and liberated her house back.
May 2011 – Fannie Mae called the Rochester Police asking for them to remove Ms. Lennon from her house. Already disgraced from the first eviction attempt, Rochester police refused assistance. Plan A of removal fails.
July 2011 – Fannie Mae sues Catherine Lennon and Take Back the Land Rochester and files for a temporary restraining order to have Ms. Lennon removed from the house. The Judge denies the order. Plan B of removal fails
August 2011 – Fannie Mae attempts Plan C by re-filing for eviction in City Court just like they had in March. The eviction was scheduled for August 17, 2011. Ms. Lennon pledged to once again stay in her home and Take Back the Land Rochester announced they form an eviction blockade of grandmothers to keep Ms. Lennon, herself a grandmother, in her home.
August 16, 2011 – On the eleventh hour of the second eviction attempt New York State Supreme Court Judge Anne Marie Taddeo ordered the eviction stopped and took another look at the foreclosure proceedings that were riddled with fraud.. Fannie Mae’s Plan C for removal had failed.
December 2011 – Steven J. Baum, the largest foreclosure mill in the country, imploded and folded in disgrace cancelling court hearings indefinitely.
November 2013 – Catherine Lennon and Take Back the Land Rochester claim a historic, precedent setting victory as Bank of America deeds the house back Catherine Lennon without a mortgage. After over year of back forth between Fannie Mae, Bank of America, and Catherine Lennon’s lawyers terms of the settlement were finalized and official.