BOSTON/Dorchester - Normandy Street resident Drusilla Frances can remain in her home - at least for another day.
On Monday, Housing advocates from City Life Vida Urbana and members of the four month old Massuniting Coalition, rallied in front of the Frances' two family brick home in Grove Hall and prevented a Boston Housing Court constable from executing an eviction notice.
As the number of activists swelled - nearly one hundred at one point - organizers made speeches, and led chants of "What do we do when the banks attack? Fight back!"
Under the hot sun (and holding an umbrella for shade) City Life organizers took turns describing what happens to neighborhoods when banks foreclose on homeowners. Consequences, they said, include buildings sitting vacant for long periods of time leading to criminal activity in many cases.
Non-profit Boston Community Capital (BCC) has made an offer to buy the Frances home but advocates say mortgage holder U.S. Bank has refused to negotiate. BCC policy is to sell properties back to the homeowner at current market rates; which in today's depressed market are generally lower than the original sale price.
State Representative Liz Malia, City Councillor Charles Yancey, veteran community organizer and politician Mel King and activists from Lynn, Worcester, and as far away as Springfield made speeches.
A housing court constable, several Boston police officers, and workers from a local moving company waited to start arresting activists if necessary in order to move Ms. Frances and her foster children out of the home.
Finally, after about two hours City Life organizer Melonie Griffiths announced that "there are laws in the city...so the police officers asked the constable to see the eviction notice. In fact, he did not have the proper document."
"As a result of the demonstration," added Griffiths, "the constable could not remove the family from this home."
Coalition supporters - some of whom have participated in scores of protests and been arrested at other eviction blockades - gave out a great cheer following the announcement of a successful blockade.
But the success may be short lived. City Life organizers asked that as many people as possible come back tomorrow at 9:00am. While staff in the offices of Liz Malia and State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz were attempting to make a deal with U.S. Bank for the Frances family to stay in their home and continue paying rent, Melonie Griffith said it was possible the Housing Court would issue the correct documents - including another 48 hour notice - today.
Griffiths said City Life would move its daily operations tomorrow from its office in the Brewery Complex in Jamaica Plain to the Frances home in Dorchester.
In an interview, Ms. Frances said she had nowhere to live if the bank proceeds with plans to evict her and her kids.
This story is a News-Brief.
UPDATE/August 3, 2011 On Wednesday, City Life Organizer Steve Meacham said that US Bancorp has made a counter offer on the Frances home to Boston Community Capital. This followed phone calls to the bank's attorney from staff in the offices of State Rep. Liz Malia and State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. (Dave Goodman)