Despite Eviction Orders, Joseph Woods Will Defend His Home

Who:  Community of Human Rights Defenders

What:  Eviction Protest to Stop the Unjust Bank Eviction of Joseph Woods

When:   Thursday, June 11, at 11:00am

Where  : 394 Webster Ave, Rochester, NY  (the 25 year residence of the Woods family)

Why  : Because united we can stop the foreclosure machine and elevate housing to a human right

Who would is responsible for this unjust action?  : MIdFirst Bank

Joseph Woods is, once again, fighting to stay in his home at 394 Webster Ave, and once again, Joe is declaring that he shall not be moved. On Thursday, June 11, members of the community, led by Take Back the Land Rochester, will stand in support of the Joe, ready to resist the Marshal and officers of the Rochester Police Department.

Upon being served an order of eviction in September 2013, Joe received community support from organizations such as Take Back the Land, the Band of Rebels, and Metro Justice. On September 26, 2013 a large, energetic eviction blockade convinced the City Marshal and MidFirst Bank to reconsider their stance. The eviction was called off, and MidFirst Bank agreed to work with Joe to arrive at a better solution. That never happened, and after a period of time, MidFirst went back to court for another order of eviction.

Though the banks and the court system have refused to give The Woods family a fighting chance, their neighbors, and community groups have banded together to fight to keep the Woods in their home.

For the past 25 years, Joe Woods lived and raised a family in this home, for better or for worse. When the financial crisis left his wife, Glenda Woods, unemployed in 2009, reducing the family’s income, the Woods came together to support each other and make good on all of their debts. Though they, like many families, have fought their way back from the financial brink, Midfirst refused to accept their payments on the house. Rather than negotiate, they foreclosed.

Midfirst is only one in a long line of banks (including Columbia Banking, Countrywide, Aurora and MERS) to purchase the Woods’ mortgage. Motivated by Silent Bailouts and FHA Insurance settlements, they have showed no interest in keeping Glenda and Joseph in the home where they raised their children. Instead, they are only interested in maximizing the returns on this house, which they view as an investment.

Rather than work with Joe on a solution, MidFirst offered him a “Cash for Keys” deal —- a payment of $1000 if the Woods family would leave their home. When Joe refused the offer, they raised the amount to $5000. Midfirst’s only other ’offer’ was that they would sell the house back to Joe for $108,000, almost 4 times the house’s $28,000 valuation.

The reason for this is simple. Midfirst Bank is counting on a process called a “Silent Bailout” to profit off the Woods’ financial hardships. Their offer is unreasonably high because they hope to push the Woods family out of their home so that they can receive a payout from the Federal Housing Authorthy foreclosure Insurance.

The FHA insurance process requires that the Woods Family be forcibly evicted if they do not leave on their own. Midfirst can only collect if the house is vacant. Vacant houses are ransacked and lie deteriorating. When the house becomes completely unlivable, the City of Rochester and its taxpayers will fund the bulldozing of this house.

Take Back the Land Rochester is asking the City of Rochester to pursue a moratorium on police enforcement of foreclosure evictions.  Says Julie Gelfand, of TBTL, ”For the city to spend taxpayer resources on policemen to evict people from their homes is to support bank greed over the rights and needs of Rochester homeowners.  As stated in the Empire Justice 2015 report, The Eye of the Storm: Why the Treat of Foreclosure Damage Continues, “  Keeping owners in their homes is the best way to prevent a house from becoming vacant in neighborhoods with weak home-buyer markets, such as Rochester’s African-American and Latino neighborhoods.”

If the City refuses police support in enforcing court ordered evictions, the banks will be forced to negotiate with homeowners.

For more information:

Take Back the Land Rochester:

Julie Gelfand [email protected] 585 485-3807

David Tolar  [email protected]  585-576-4806




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