California Neighborhoods

A House Is Not A Home

Nearly $7 trillion dollars went up in smoke with the housing crisis in the United States. The loss in social capital has not been calculated.

The Trailer Trash Project is hitting the road, taking a mobile recording studio into Southern California neighborhoods to the tell stories of families fighting  to stay in their homes in the face of foreclosure.   A House Is Not A Home is the name of our new series of bi-monthly reports for KPFK 90.9 FM (Pacifica, Los Angeles). We’ll dig beneath the surface of housing crisis to pinpoint how one foreclosure can affect an extended family, a neighborhood and community.  We’ll also document how a coalition of activists have come together under the umbrella of the Occupy Movement to bring about much needed change. The series will also include a traveling exhibit will online access to material

Help us report from the road on the foreclosure crisis in Southern California.  We need to raise $3500  to buy an audio recorder and a used van to tow our 1972 mini camper. The camper will serve as  recording studio and home on wheels which we’ll take into neighborhoods around Southern California. (This 16′ camper is not to be confused with our 33′ Spartan trailer we are restoring as a performance space.)  Click here  to make a tax-deductible donation.

Javier Hernandez: "You hear stories of people who loose their homes and never get over it." Javier and his 4 year old brother are pictured at a rally in downtown L.A. to lend support for a lawsuit seeking redress of unlawful foreclosure practices.

We’ll tell the stories like these: Javier Hernandez was a 25 year old delivery driver in 2006 when Countrywide Finance him a $546,000 loan on a home.   Before signing, Javier, who planned to live in the house and share costs with mother, father and brother asked the lender if he thought the family could swing the $3,900 monthly payments that would require more than half the family’s income (The family had no   no credit medical or car payments debt.)   The lender assured him that after two years the value of the house would increase substantially and he could then refinance with lower payments.

In fact, the opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s mortgage payments ballooned The lender assured him that the value of the house would increase substantially after two years at which point the family could lower their payments.  The opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s mortgage payments balloonedThe lender assured him that the value of the house would increase substantially after two years at which point the family could lower their payments.  The opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s interest rate ballooned, raising mortgage payments to $5,000. They asked to refinance but were told the value of their home had sunk; the only way to get help was to stop payments and go into default.  In 2008 they were given three months to vacate the house.  While the family remains in the house, they know the axe could fall at any time.  Meanwhile, Javier and his brother Ulysses – both previously apolitical,  have joined the Occupy Movement to support the fight to keep people in their homes.

When Bank of America bought Coutrywide,

Faith Parkerwho has lived in her South Central L.A. home for 50 years.  An educator

Mrs. Faith Parker and her eldest daughter Brenda outside Mrs. Parker’s South Central L.A. home of 50 years.

who has contributed much to children and families in her community, Mrs. Parker fell on hard times when she refinanced her home to get a loan to help care for her daughter who had contracted multiple-sclerosis.  Her mortgage payments shot up from $900 to $2200.  When Mrs. Parker asked for a second revision, Bank of America told her she would first have to default.    In a letter the Bank told her not to worry, trust the bank,  she didn’t need a lawyer.  After months of frustrating letter writing and calls, Faith’s house was put up for sale.

Bertha Herrera, a grandmother and volunteer chaplain for has lived in her home of more than 40 years.  Mrs. Herrera’s troubles started with an accident and ended with eviction from her home in January.  The Trailer Trash Project was there when deputies with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department broke down her door and evicted her.  On hand as well were more than a dozen “Occupiers” providing support and publicizing Mrs. Herrera’s plight. 

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.