Today was a good day for Lilly Washington, the woman fighting Bank of America and Fannie Mae to keep her home after being improperly foreclosed upon. The banner over her garage door read “This Home Is Occupied.” Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) and Occupy Phoenix held a community barbeque to draw attention to her struggle and support her efforts to represent herself in the federal district court action she filed in October to regain her home. Braving the summer heat, seventy supporters joined City Councilman Danny Valenzuela and local media outlets at Mrs. Washington’s home in west Phoenix for music, burgers and popsicles.
Calling Mrs. Washington “an amazing woman” for standing up to Bank of America, Fannie Mae and Sheriff Arpaio’s attempts to evict her from her home, Monica Sandschafer of LUCHA called her an “extreme example of the kind of fraud and theft being done to regular people like us every single day, and they’ve been destroying our communities here in Phoenix. They’re turning over our neighborhoods, they’re destabilizing our communities, and they’re robbing our tax base for important things like parks and schools. And it’s time that we stand up. And they’re not just doing it here in Phoenix, they’re doing it all over the country. And so LUCHA, Occupy Phoenix, folks all around the country are coming together to say ‘enough is enough.’ You guys are big, you’re national, but guess what, so are we. There are 12 million homeowners underwater in this country. If 12 million homeowners stood up against Bank of America and Fannie Mae, you’d better believe this would be over.” She called for supporters to join with the Home Defenders League to fight the big banks.
Lilly Washington was in the middle of a loan modification with Bank of America when her son who is in the military was wounded and sent to a hospital in Germany. She informed the bank that she needed to go be with her son, and BoA assured her in a letter that they were aware of her trip and: “will await your return so that we can finish the loan modification process.” She thought everything would be fine until her return.
But just days after leaving, the bank foreclosed, and Fannie Mae took ownership of her home:
“Everything was empty. Everything. Upstairs, downstairs everything was empty,” says Lilly Washington.
Washington was stunned when she returned home and found a “for sale” sign in her yard. She managed to get back into the home and immediately started making calls.
“I said ‘where did you put my stuff from the house. Which storage.’ They said, ‘we don’t put in storage, it is at the city dump.’”
Washington had just returned from visiting her wounded son in Germany. She was gone for a month and half. Her son’s Purple Heart was thrown away too.
“I said, my gosh how can you take that. He is fighting for this country. And you steal from his home, everything,” says Washington.
Washington’s church helped her refurnish the home as she wasn’t able to recover any of her belongings, and she has been fighting for two years now to regain ownership.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT THE ARIZONA FREE PRESS