San Francisco residents reclaim foreclosed homes

Carolyn Gage lost her home to foreclosure, but on Tuesday, she took it back.

On Gage’s stretch of Quesada Avenue in the Bayview, 11 homes are in foreclosure, and four families, including her own, have been evicted.

But Tuesday, Gage and her neighbors decided to fight back against the banks that they say deceived them with high-interest, adjustable-rate loans and refused to work with them to reduce their payments.

“This is my family home, I grew up here,” said Gage, standing in the door of a two-story stucco house with mustard-colored trim. “My father built this house.”

With the assistance of organizers from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a statewide progressive group, several dozen people marched down Quesada Avenue to protest foreclosures. They included members of Occupy SF and mayoral candidate John Avalos.

Gage, who had been living with family since her home was foreclosed several months ago, is a former San Francisco sheriff’s deputy living on workers’ compensation after she was injured on the job. In 2006, she began receiving calls from lenders offering her a home equity loan. The money was tempting.

“After a while, I did it,” she said.

Gage has not heard from the bank that owns her loan, which is based in Florida, but said she plans to stay in her home whatever happens.

“I’m reclaiming my home and reclaiming my way of life,” she said. “I’m just picking up the pieces.”

Vivian Richardson, a laid-off telecommunications worker who lives near Gage, said she would also stay in her home, even as the Delaware-based bank that owns her loan tries to remove her from her home of 13 years.

“For two years straight, I tried to get a loan modification and was just given the runaround,” she said, noting that payments on her refinanced mortgage had soared from $1,600 to $3,100 a month. “The banks got bailed out. What are they doing with the money? What purpose does it serve to have empty properties?”

Grace Martinez, an organizer with the alliance, said that more neighborhood groups were planning similar protests, including in the Excelsior on Saturday.

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Koozmin contributed to this report.

State housing crisis

  • 1.2 million foreclosures in California since 2008
  • 12,000 foreclosures in San Francisco that will have been completed between 2008 and 2012
  • 1,465 foreclosures in the Bayview neighborhood

Source: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

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