Save our community: fight foreclosure

Victor Lopez, Staff Writer

Drum beats and chanting filled the air as dozens of protesters marched from  Washington Street to their final destination at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro, NC, on March 14, 2012.

Photo Credit: Victor Lopez

Protesters converged at the theater with an eager crowd of supporters to celebrate the premiere of a locally produced short film, “Let’s Lose Our House: A Modern Foreclosure Tale.”

The film was an engaging and informative treatment of the complex and severe foreclosure problem affecting our communities, according to the event’s organizers.

Susan Ikenberry, a Greensboro local who attended the event, said seeing the film showed the human connection to foreclosure.

“The film transcended the raw numbers and statistics and put a human and local face on foreclosure; it provided a glimpse into the largely private nightmares that many of our neighbors are experiencing,” said Ikenberry.

Photo Credit: Victor Lopez

The crowd of over 500 people who came out for the premier suggests that foreclosure is a charged topic for Greensboro residents. Members of the Occupy Greensboro Movement argue that Guilford County residents are becoming increasingly tired of the tactics used by banks that have led to the foreclosure epidemic that is plaguing this area.

Area Director for the American Friends Service Committee, Ann Lennon, interpreted the diversity of those who attended the premier as evidence that foreclosures in Greensboro are affecting a wide demographic.

“The personal stories were front and center. It pulls a community together to support each other,” said Lennon.

Guilford County alone averages 296 new foreclosure filings each month, according to Guilford Counties Registrar of Deeds Office.

Co-filmmaker and Guilford graduate Kevin Smith said that, “The loss of a home through foreclosure devastates the affected family emotionally and financially. But it’s not only the affected family that suffers.  Each and every foreclosed home impacts each and every member of the community.”

Nathan Pius, a member of Greensboro’s Occupy movement, observed the crowds reactions to the film.

“The audience laughed at the comical parts of the film, and then were quiet and attentive during the expository segments,” said Pius.

Following the movie premier, Guilford County’s Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen spoke to the audience about the foreclosure fraud being perpetrated by banks.

Thigpen recently filed civil lawsuits against financial institutions including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, citing fraudulent practices in the foreclosure process.

Machine-generated signatures were one of the commonly used practices in the recent foreclosures that Thigpen criticized.

Photo Credit: Occupy Greensboro

“The ‘robo’ signing process employed by the financial institutions made it hard to discern what was a correct foreclosure from what was not,” said Thigpen.

Lori Fernald Khamala, director of the North Carolina Immigrant Rights Program for the American Friends Service Committee, attended the function with her young daughter.

“The event was wonderfully informative and creative all at the same time,” said Khamala. “The film did a good job of highlighting very complex issues such as foreclosure in a way that people could digest.”

After the premier, qualified housing counselors were available to help attendees who faced foreclosures.

Other organizers offered ways for people to become involved in crafting a community-based response to the crisis.  Volunteers signed on to help in a range of ways: signing petitions, getting trained to dig up evidence of fraud in public records or telling their own foreclosure story.

Photo Credit:Victor Lopez

“Reports coming from many of the service providers I spoke to said that they felt they were able to help a wide range of people following the movies’ premier,” said Pius.

Lennon said the event was intended to revive and inform the public that foreclosures continue to erode the Greensboro community.

“We have to keep the conversations going, a lot of these processes and understandings will not have immediate gratification connected to them,” said Lennon. “We have to be conscious of the kind of country we are leaving to the generations that follow ours.”

 

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