Retired cops, Occupy join forces to save home

They’re normally on opposing sides, but on Monday retired Atlanta police officers and members of an Occupy Atlanta group joined forces to try to help a retired, disabled APD detective save her Fayetteville home.

“I didn’t know where else to turn,” said Jacqueline Barber, 62. “I called them because I needed help.”

Barber was a 20-year veteran with APD when she retired in 2001 after being struck by a car while on duty. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer, in 2009. Her financial struggles started in 2007 when her adjustable rate mortgage payments went up to $3,886 a month from $2,400, she said. Her cancer has since come out of remission and she has to resume aggressive treatment to fight it.

Barber said she tried everything she could for two years to get a loan modification, sending in document after document to Wells Fargo bank. In early 2012, Barber said Wells Fargo officials assured her they were working on her case.

“I felt a sense of hope at the prospect of finally getting some relief,” she said. However, Barber said Wells Fargo sold her mortgage at auction to U.S. Bank while she was in the process of working out the loan modification. A few weeks later she said she received a letter from U.S. Bank demanding she leave the property.

Desperate to keep the home she shares with her daughter and four grandchildren, Barber said she filed for bankruptcy in August, which granted her a temporary stay from the eviction.

“U.S. Bank is not interested in helping me. They just want me out,” said Barber. Family members and supporters are even willing to buy back her home, but US Bank refuses to consider any options, according to Barber.

Neither U.S. Bank nor Wells Fargo officials could not be reached for comment on Monday, which was Columbus Day, a bank holiday .

“She’s not the only one going through this, it could happen to any of us,” said Joyce Sanders, a fellow APD retiree, who stood in Barber’s front yard with other retired officers and members of Occupy Our Homes.

Tens of thousands of Georgians are in a similar predicament. Federal data show that at least 32,000 state residents are now working their way through a federal mortgage modification program. There is no telling how many residents were rejected for mortgage modifications through the array of public and private programs.

“We want to send a message that she will not be evicted,” said Tim Franzen. He and others who were involved with the Occupy Atlanta movement are now part of a group called Occupy Our Homes ATL, which focuses on the housing crisis.

Franzen said his group has a plan for helping Barber keep her home. The group’s counterpart in Minneapolis plans to deliver a hardship letter on Barber’s behalf to U.S. Bank headquarters on Tuesday. Franzen said that on Wednesday Occupy Our Homes is sponsoring a call-in to U.S. Bank’s CEO, and on Thursday the group will protest at district court in Newnan at a hearing where Barber will fight U.S. Bank’s attempt to get a stay lifted that would allow her to remain in the house as a result of her filing for bankruptcy.

Barber said she wants U.S. Bank to sell the house back to her or a family member for $150,000 — the amount the bank paid for the house, “so that I can keep a roof over my head.” If she’s evicted, Barber said she has no place to go.

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