Homeowners in southeast Queens are sending big banks a clear message – you are not welcome here.
UnitedNY, which is a coalition of different groups that mobilizes workers and the unemployed to search for more jobs and better wages, organized a rally outside of the Chase Bank on 205-32 Linden Boulevard in St. Albans on August 5. Homeowners and college students from the area gathered to give the bank a taste of its own medicine – an eviction notice.
“Banks were bailed out and they were allowed to stay,” said Cara Noel, the communications director of UnitedNY. “Through this eviction we are showing them that we are kicking them out of our communities because of their unwillingness to return the favor. Eviction is a very real thing, and we wanted to show them how it felt.”
According to UnitedNY, the mock eviction was delivered to the local branch for “failing to pay a fair share of taxes, failing to do enough to create jobs and failing to aid underwater homeowners.” Chase was also chosen due in large part to the bank decreasing its small business lending by 70 percent and firing over 14,000 employees since being bailed out.
“Chase has made extensive efforts to help homeowners during this difficult financial time,” said Chase spokesperson Michael Fusco. “We have helped half a million homeowners avoid foreclosure nationwide. We have prevented two for every one home we have had to foreclose. For New York we have offered more than 50,000 modifications, and we have helped prevent foreclosure seven times for every one time that we have had to foreclose.”
The foreclosure rate in southeast Queens is currently 1.97 percent, which is as much as five times higher than the state average, and the number of people whose homes are valued less than the remaining cost of their mortgage is up to six times the state average.
“When my family lost our income, we thought our bank was going to be there for us,” said Mimi Pierre Johnson, a southeast Queens resident who is fearful of losing her home. “What we encountered were games played by Chase, which involved us following the necessary steps for a loan modification including giving them our money. Each time it came time to complete our loan modification, we were told there were additional steps to the process. Chase, let us stay in our homes the way we let you keep your job!”