Hundreds Converge in Greensboro: a community facing a foreclosure crisis!
by Victor Lopez, Intern - AFSC Office of the Carolinas
GREENSBORO, NC - March 14--Drum beats and chanting filled the air as dozens of protesters marched from Washington Street to their final destination at The Carolina Theater, in Greensboro, NC on March 14, 2012.
There they converged with an eager crowd of supporters to celebrate the premier of a locally produced short film, “Let’s Lose Our House: A Modern Foreclosure Tale.”
The film was an “engaging” and informative treatment of a very complex and “disastrous” foreclosure problems of affecting our communities, according to the events organizers.
Susan Ikenberry, a Greensboro local who attended the event, said seeing the film showed the human connection to foreclosure.
Ikenberry said, “The film transcended the raw numbers and statistics and put a human and local face on foreclosure; it provided a glimpse into the largely private nightmares that many of our neighbors are experiencing.”
The crowd of over 500 people who came out for the premier suggests that foreclosure is a charged topic for Greensboro residents. Members of the Occupy Greensboro Movement argue that Guilford County residents are becoming increasingly tired of the tactics used by banks that have led to the foreclosure epidemic that is plaguing this area.
Area Director for the American Friends Service Committee, Ann Lennon, said that the diversity of those who attended the premier as evidence that foreclosures in Greensboro are affecting a wide demographic.
“The program highlighted the disturbing aspects of the foreclosure crisis,” said Lennon. “The personal stories were front and center. It pulls a community together to support each other. Working together we can make a difference. “
Guilford County alone is averages 296 new foreclosure filings each month, according to Guilford Counties Registrar of Deeds Office.
Co-filmmaker and Guilford graduate Kevin Smith said that, “the loss of a home through foreclosure devastates the affected family emotionally and financially. But it’s not only the affected family that suffers. Each and every foreclosed home impacts each and every member of the community.”
Nathan Pius, a member of Greensboro’s Occupy movement, observed the crowds reactions.
“The audience laughed at the comical parts of the film and then were quiet and attentive during the expository segments,” said Pius.
Following the movies premier, Guilford County's Register of Deeds, Jeff Thigpen, spoke to the audience about the fraud being perpetrated by banks relating to foreclosures.
Thigpen recently filed civil lawsuits against financial institutions such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, citing fraudulent practices in the foreclosure process, including forged signatures, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The ‘robo’ signing process employed by the financial institutions made it hard to discern what was a correct foreclosure from what was not,” said Thigpen.
Lori Fernald Khamala, Director of the North Carolina Immigrant Rights Program for the American Friends Service Committee, who attended the function with her young daughter, said that the event was a an exciting event full of information and entertainment.
"The event was wonderfully informative and creative all at the same time,” said Khamala. “The film did a good job of highlighting very complex issues such as foreclosure in a way that people could digest.”
There were qualified housing counselors on hand for those who needed help fighting foreclosures they are facing.
Additionally, the event offered a range of ways for people to become involved in helping to craft a community-based response to the crisis, from signing petitions to getting trained to dig up evidence of fraud in public records, to telling their own foreclosure story.
“Reports coming from many of the service providers I spoke to said that they felt they were able to help a wide range of people following the movies premier,” said Pius.
Lennon said the event was meant to revive and remind the public that the plight of foreclosure is still a very active issue in the Greensboro community.
“We have to keep the conversations going, a lot of these processes and understandings will not have immediate gratification connected to them,” said Lennon. “We have to be conscience; however, to the kind of country we are leaving to the generations that follow ours.”