On Thursday, a group of 75 community members rallied for Jaymie Kelly, a former candidate for Minneapolis mayor whose campaign sought to raise awareness of unjust evictions.
The group was bolstered by support from U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and a majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council in arguing that policies must change to avert foreclosures and end the use of public resources in evictions.
"Jaymie's lived in her home 30 years. Her adult daughter grew up in that house doing her homework on the kitchen table, and now, she could be evicted any day," Ellison said. "This is wrong. It's time Freddie Mac knew that the days of kicking hardworking decent Americans out of their homes are over."
Newly elected Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges also issued a statement asking Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to reverse policies that stymie cooperation with homeowners.
"I've paid for my home of 30 years five times over because I was the victim of a predatory loan, but Freddie Mac refuses to work with me because Mel Watt won't allow principal reduction," Kelly explained. "I am not asking for that much. I'm asking for a negotiation at fair market value. My community stands with me, and we are not leaving."
Watt took office in January after his predecessor, Ed DeMarco, became a target of housing justice activists over his refusal to enact principal reduction or negotiate with struggling homeowners. Under Watt, the office has continued to adhere to those policies and will not negotiate with Kelly.
Kelly's home, which was the target of an Election Day eviction attempt, has become a symbol in the national push to change the policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two agencies that oversee half of all mortgages in the country.
"It was traumatic to have 30 sheriffs pounding up my stairs at 5 am on Election Day. They shattered my glass door and actually made my daughter walk barefoot across the broken glass," said Jaymie Kelly. "We're asking that the Minneapolis Police don't use police resources to evict homeowners. There's a different solution. The police are supposed to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis, not the banks."
Now, local advocates hope support from Ellison and city leaders in Minneapolis will provide additional political leverage. During her campaign, Hodges pledged not to use police resources in evictions during her campaign, and several City Council members echoed that call Thursday.
"I want to make sure our officers are not accomplices to these injustices," said Council Member Andrew Johnson. "It serves no one in our city when we're evicting homeowners who are out there, working hard to pay their bills, contributing to our community. We should not be spending any of our tax dollars tearing apart our community. We need to be spending our tax dollars to build it."
At Minneapolis City Hall, seven of the 13 members have said they support Kelly. They are:
- Alondra Cano
- Andrew Johnson
- Jacob Frey
- Elizabeth Glidden
- Cam Gordon
- Linea Palmisano
- Blong Yang
"I am committed to make sure we work with the Minneapolis Police Department, the sheriff, and the mayor's office, to make sure we're not wrongly using police resources to evict homeowners who are trying to negotiate with these big banks. This represents a shift to make sure our government is truly run by and for the people," Cano said.
Palmisano could not attend Thursday's event, but sent the following statement in support:
"We need our police officers resourced to peace and safety in our communities. We should not afford, nor should we condone, carrying out evictions on behalf of predatory lenders. These financial institutions have caused great harm to our people and our city, and we need to find a better way."
Additionally, two candidates for Hennepin County Commissioner, Ben Schweigert and Marion Green, are also urging the county not to use public resources -- specifically, the Sheriff's Department -- for unjust evictions.
Solidarity events are also being held this week in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. Since Kelly has stayed in her home despite two eviction attempts by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office this fall, the Minneapolis Police Department currently has jurisdiction over the eviction.