A group of activists inspired by Occupy Wall Street helped a man move back into the South Park home from which he was evicted for just two days before the Seattle Police Department moved him out again.
Members of the Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE) attempted to negotiate with banks to keep Jeremy Griffin in his home and staged protests to stop what they see as an unfair foreclosure on someone who is ready and able re-buy his home.
On July 31, King County Sheriff’s officers led handcuffed protesters off Jeremy Griffin’s property.
Members of SAFE helped Griffin back into his home Aug. 14, even though a locksmith had already changed the locks.
Griffin declined to say how he got back in.
“Someone came and changed the locks, and I now have keys to the locks,” Griffin said with a smile.
Griffin was there just two days before the Seattle Police Department came and moved him out again. Eight officers arrived Aug. 16 to change the locks again and send Griffin and SAFE volunteers elsewhere.
Griffin is now staying at the home of another SAFE member.
Moving back in after eviction is common practice among foreclosure protestors.
“It’s been a pretty successful tactic,” said Kari Koch of We Are Oregon, an anti-foreclosure group in Portland.
We Are Oregon helped three families move back into their homes in 2012 after an eviction. All three of them are still living in their homes, and one of the families convinced a bank to renegotiate to buy back their home.
Griffin had hoped the same thing would happen here. He wants Wells Fargo to agree to rent him the home until he can buy it. Griffin originally purchased the home in 2005.
SAFE has based its actions on those developed by CityLife, a nonprofit in Boston that works on economic justice. Like CityLife, SAFE offers legal assistance to homeowners in foreclosure, protests auctions and evictions to stop banks from keeping people out and negotiates with banks to help homeowners buy their homes back at reduced rates.
Griffin fell behind on his payments after he lost his job in 2008. In early 2012, the banks said he needed to pay the more than $10,000 in back payments to keep his home. Griffin said he was just $3,000 shy of the goal.
For much of 2012, SAFE helped Griffin deliver rent checks to Wells Fargo bank in an attempt to keep the home. Wells Fargo never accepted the checks, he said.
By moving Griffin back in, SAFE was trying to force Wells Fargo into letting Griffin lease-to-own the home. Griffin said he can afford it; he’s now bringing home more than $4,000 a month as an iron worker on the University District bus tunnel.