It started to rain at 1:30 Thursday afternoon, unusual for Central Florida in February. The press conference was called for 2:00 PM in front of Inez Batista’s Avalon Park home. Tiffany, an ACORN organizer said “somehow, it always rains when we do things like this.” ACORN volunteers, being fully prepared, handed out disposable ponchos to any in the crowd who requested one. Slowly, the group assembled as more people came until the crowd reached about forty, not counting the Batistas or the organizers or the press. Considering the weather, it was a sizable crowd.
William Moore, Chairman of the Anti-Foreclosure Committee for ACORN, spoke briefly about the nationwide initiative to keep people facing foreclosure in their homes. He then introduced Travis Munnerlyn, whose successful efforts to save his home through bold action with ACORN garnered national attention last year. Munnerlyn spelled out the principles of keeping people in their homes and working to get President Obama’s initiatives passed through Congress.
Moore then introduced Inez Batista whose foreclosure is scheduled for March 19. Batista explained that they had bought their home in 2003 and for several years they were making timely mortgage payments, however, business reversals in her husband’s construction company necessitated them to refinance. Their business never recovered and they are now faced with much higher payments than their original mortgage, even after mortgage modification. Inez Batista is ACORN’s first initiative in the Orlando area, which is, according to Moore, the highest foreclosure rate in the country.
Avery Salkey, whose story was reported previously in this post, was a special guest who told the assembled that her home was scheduled for that day, but through a last minute effort by ACORN her service company granted her a sixty day extension. There were several people in the crowd who were also facing foreclosure actions and were seeking help from ACORN. Carlos Saenz, who worked for an architectural firm was laid off from his job, had tried to work with his bank. He had gotten a 90 day forbearance which ended in December 2008, but he had not gotten another job so he asked the bank for an additional 90 days and at the same time he would go into his retirement account and bring his mortgage current. The bank refused his offer.
After the interviews Tiffany rallied the crowd with cheers and chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, predatory loans have got to go” and “The people, united will never be defeated.” As the crowd dispersed the sun broke through.