A Nashville, Tenn. foreclosure case concerning JP Morgan Chase and a former civil rights activist is slowly starting to draw national attention.JP Morgan Chase started foreclosure proceedings on 78 year-old Helen Bailey when the elderly woman fell behind on her monthly payments because of high medical expenses. The bank allegedly did not allow Bailey to reduce her principal by $9,000 so she could refinance the mortgage. But, Bailey’s case has been picked up by the Occupy Nashville movement, which has taken it up as one of their major causes. Since then, support for Bailey has resulted in over 37,000 signatures on the social action site Change.org.
The criticism of Chase has focused on the fact that the bank has continued foreclosure proceedings whilst running a promotional campaign that compares Chase’s dedication to serving the local community to the vision Martin Luther King Jr. had when he was striving for civil rights, said Will York, a member of Occupy Nashville’s Housing Protection Group. The campaign features Chase’s collaboration on a web project of Dr. King-related documents called The King centre.
“It’s interesting that Chase needs a spokesperson in Martin Luther King Jr. to sell their special brand of callousness,” York told Business Insider.
Bailey herself was a civil rights activist that marched in protests and attended Dr. King’s speeches in Nashville. She’s lived in her house in Nashville for over 12 years, and it is only two houses away from her church.
A Chase spokesperson told Business Insider that the bank has postponed a foreclosure sale on Bailey’s home four times and hopes to reach an amicable solution. The campaign against Chase comes during a period of heavy negative publicity for banks amid the Occupy Wall Street movement and multiple public lawsuits connected to subprime mortgages issued before the financial crisis.
The support movement wants Chase to stop taking money from Bailey, reasoning that they have already made a profit from the elderly woman paying 7% interest on her house. In addition, Occupy Nashville has found a company that is willing to buy the house from Chase for $85,000, which will free Bailey from her mortgage obligations. (Here’s a complete run-down of their proposal on Change.org)
“We believe she’s paid her dues to Chase and it’s time for them to step up and show some social responsibility,” York said.
The campaign for Bailey has recently gathered speed with increased publicity by drawing support from civil rights activists like Cornel West and Black Leadership Forum head Gary Flowers. The outcry of supporters has already helped Bailey—Chase planned an auction of her house last month, but that has been delayed until next week, according to York. The bank knows of the protest movement and the petition but has not communicated with Occupy Nashville or other Bailey supporters, he added.
Bailey’s foreclosure struggle has been featured by Change.org and is the most popular “Economic Justice” movement of the week. Change.org has succeeded in the past in helping those in need stop home foreclosures from banks, though what’s in store for Bailey is still up in the air.
Occupy Nashville has also created a video in support of Bailey: