Occupy MN: Malcolm LeFever and Cheryl Downey ask Wells Fargo to not foreclose [UPDATE]

Categories: Protest News
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Cheryl Downey and Malcolm LeFever want Wells Fargo to let them occupy their home of nearly 20 years.
On Friday afternoon, protesters from local labor organizations will join with Occupy MN activists to march from Peavey Plaza to the Wells Fargo Center. The march has been dubbed the "Don't Foreclose on the American Dream" rally.

Two of the marchers, Malcolm LeFever and his wife Cheryl Downey, have a more personal message for Wells Fargo: "Don't foreclose on OUR American dream." They just received a foreclosure notice last Friday.

LeFever says he's been asking for a loan remodification for over a year now and just got the runaround. Now he hopes the demonstration will earn him some face time with someone at Wells Fargo.

"We have the ability to pay. It's so odd to encounter a situation where they want us to go into foreclosure," he says.

Update: Wells Fargo responds.

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The embattled Downey-LeFever house during the 2003 holiday season.
LeFever and Downey moved into their Richfield home nearly two decades ago, and raised their 17-year-old daughter Kira, along with an assortment of pets. Over the years they built an entire second story on the house, and added a few modest improvements with an eye toward retirement -- new hardwood floors, granite counter tops, energy-efficient windows.

Then in 2008, LeFever suddenly lost his $48,000-a-year job when a hospice in Mendota Heights closed its doors. There was no severance and no warning. Although Downey's employment at another hospice remained steady, LeFever began picking up part-time gigs at a smattering of local hospitals, never pulling in half what he did in his old position.

The couple first fell behind on their mortgage payments in 2010. At that time, LeFever says he began the loan remodification process, submitting pay stubs, a letter of hardship and other forms of documentation to get the ball rolling. But resubmitting paperwork several times, long telephone conversations with someone in San Antonio, and never meeting with anyone from Wells Fargo in person, LeFever says things began to look bleak.

"You have all this hope in the beginning that your're going to be able to accomplish something," he sighs. "The reality is you confront the bank and they're not interested in doing this at all."

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The official foreclosure notice.
LeFever says that his employment is now steady enough that his family could afford to pay a reduced mortgage rate, but the bank stopped accepting his checks. The backpayment has grown to $20,000. Meanwhile, the house is worth $60,000 less than Lefever's current mortgage. The bad credit score botched their daughter's school loans, and she deferred her freshman year to work. Her father says she's already completed half her credits in post-secondary high school work and was set to graduate the University of Minnesota  at 19.

"I had a really good GPA, I was really young and I just completely dropped out," says Kira ruefully. "My entire life I thought the barriers to success are how good you are."

Jordan Ash, a researcher with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, reviewed LeFever's case and says his set of circumstances is hardly unusual.

"He's been working with them for a very long time," he says. "They've got an income to make the payments. It's just that Wells Fargo won't work with them."

After nearly a year and a half since LeFever says he requested a modification, last Friday, his wife received a knock at their door, an apology and a notice of sheriff's sale. The auction takes place at 10 a.m. on November 22nd.

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Kira Downey in the Student Co-op.
Kira heard about Occupy MN and convinced her parents to march to Wells Fargo with demonstrators on Friday. Part of the thinking is that the group could accomplish something similar to a story out of California: After marching to the headquarters of Fannie Mae to speak about her foreclosed home, Rose Gudiel was arrested. Hours after she was released, she received a call notifying her that her modification had been approved. Some are calling her the "Rosa Parks" of the foreclosure crisis.

Update: In an email this morning, a spokesperson from Wells Fargo wrote,

Since 2010, we have worked with Mr. LeFever to try and find an option that will enable him to remain in his home. Unfortunately none of the options were viable. In order to continue efforts to search for options that may help Mr. LeFever stay in his home updated documentation is required for consideration and approval.

Sometimes a customer's circumstances change at the last minute enabling him or her to qualify for an appropriate resolution.

LeFever says he wants their story out there, but isn't optimistic that Wells Fargo will talk to him on Friday. Still, his daughter says she already sees the Occupy MN effect since he started speaking out.

"Both my parents changed," she says. "They can really start to get rid of that degradation and that shame that gets piled on you when you owe money."

While the couple tries to get an audience at Wells Fargo, marchers from Occupy MN, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, and other labor and community organizations will be following up on the list of demands they delivered to Wells Fargo Minnesota CEO David Kvamme. In it they ask for face-to-face mediation on foreclosures -- the kind that LeFever and Downey are hoping to force on Friday.

Watch the letter delivery below and read the whole list of demands here:


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6 comments
Johnson
Johnson

20 years paying on their mortgage.  Significant remodeling completed and they still owe more than the house is worth?  Really?  Where did they get the funds to remodel...just asking.  Seems to me after 20 years,they should mostly have their loan paid off right?  So why do we believe we are entitled to live a certain lifestyle that is above the means they can afford?  Yes, I feel for these people and their daughter, it sucks.  But the story is a decision every family has in front of them everyday.  I could use a remodel myself, but I dont want that debt. Maybe I should do it anyway...and expect the banks to forgive my loan if we have a hardship in the future...some personal choices I guess.  Its funny how a bank can lend money to someone to help them achieve their dream, but if they dont fully achieve their dream doing what is required, the bank is required to pay for their dream anyway...the American way...at least thats how the the rest of the world looks at Americans..entitled.

Hope they find a way and it works out for them. 

Chrizy910
Chrizy910

I feel their pain. Citi is doing the same thing to us. We won the first hearing, next hearing is in November. I hope we win that one too.

Yettas
Yettas

Check your documents..and land records..and talk to a lawyer.  Due to securitisation..they are (more likely than not) the SERVICER..not the owner of the note and/or mortgage.  They will not work with you due to "Investor Guidelines"...happening all over..:'(

BHO
BHO

Kira Downey has as much experience as I do. Heck she might run for President and beat me. I'd better have Billy Clinton offer her an internship and get me some pictures (just in case). Oh my they mentioned Fannie Mae (and Freddie Mac). I hope they don't make the connection to Acorn and the money laundering the two did for the democrat party.

Someone needs to tell these people the WF Mortgage is in the old honeywell building on 35. That is where they need to march too! Or west des moines Iowa. Maybe I can have a beer with that girl.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

In the wise words of Herman Cain why are these losers blaming the banks for this?   If you aren't rich and successful its your own damm fault.   See rich millionaires like him don't blame other people for their problems they go out and achieve without any help from the government or nothing else.   Consider Wells Fargo's CEO, he made nearly $20 million dollars in pay in 2011.    He could have spent his life blaming corporations but instead he made sure that he would have no soul so he could make $20 million a year of off human misery.  The worst one is the daughter in all this.   Why would society want to make it easy for a hard working violent hippie islamofacist atheist like Kira to graduate college at 19?    Do you scumbag 99% realize that will cost the CEO of Wells Fargo almost an extra $1000 a year to pay for that?    How is he supposed to afford that diamond encrusted monocle he has been eying?   Don't you understand how increasing his taxes 1% will make it so rich people just don't want to work?   Why slave away and make millions if the government is going to take an extra couple of thousand dollars?    Idiots.  I want each and every person that read this blog to go up to a rich person and give them everything in their wallet today.  Beg them to create jobs.   Remember my new campaign slogan  Bachmann 2012: Kneel before your 1% GODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

vitajex
vitajex

If you're going to post stupid crap (Seriously? ACORN? Might as well reference Teapot Dome- wait, that was an ACTUAL scandal...) at least get your own shtick.

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