SoCal Families To ‘Occupy’ Foreclosed Homes; BofA Braces For Protests

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Does the latest twist in the national “Occupy” movement pose a threat to one of the largest banks in the U.S.?

In an email, Bank of America warned its field agents to be prepared for protests as at least two Southland families announced plans on Tuesday to actively “reclaim” homes that were lost to foreclosure.

A copy of an internal memorandum addressed to “all BAC Field Services suppliers” dated December 5 appears to warn agents not to engage with protesters and to ensure that any BAC-owned vacant properties are secured.

The memo refers to a new national campaign called “Occupy Our Homes” — a spin-off of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement — as a “potential nationwide protest that could impact our industry”.

In addition to Los Angeles, as many as 20 cities are schedule to host an “Occupy Our Homes” event across the state and nation including Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, St. Louis and Seattle.

A Riverside man identified only as “Art” and his family along with a cancer survivor and her South Gate family are expected to announce plans to “reclaim” their former home, which was repossessed when the resident went delinquent on his mortgage.

“Art” lost his house six months ago in a foreclosure and now intends to engage in a protest that may involve camping out on the property, according to supporters.

Sponsors of the campaign include Occupy Wall Street, ReFund California, The New Bottom Line, the Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment, Take Back the Land, SOUL and New York Communities for Change.

According to organizers, Art purchased the property in 2003 but fell behind on his mortgage payments in 2009 after business at the Orange County factory in which he’s employed as a supervisor plummeted.

He applied for a loan modification to pare down his monthly principal and interest costs, but supporters allege Chase bank refused to accept the proposed terms and initiated foreclosure proceedings, resulting in the man and his family vacating the home and relocating to Orange County.

The house remains vacant.

In an written statement, Bank of America said the precautionary email is nothing more than “standard operating procedure” for all third party contractors.

“It is the bank’s policy to protect and secure our properties for the investors who own them,” the statement read. “Bank of America is committed to helping our customers with home retention solutions and other foreclosure avoidance program. Foreclosure is always our last resort.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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