Media were on hand, including a reporter from the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio, Twin Cities Daily Planet, a film crew from 612 Authentic and (of course) this blog.
The "rap sheets" contained talking points about mortgage counseling, gearing to avoid inducing alarm while making sure those in need of help were given contact information to avoid foreclosure.
Before organizing into teams, volunteers watched "role playing" by two teams, one of which included yours truly starring as a slightly-cranky homeowner with hard-to-admit mortgage problems. Volunteers were organized to make sure individuals familiar with the neighborhood were paired with those who didn't know the terrain so well. There was no shortage of vehicles.
The influence of ACORN on the volunteer effort was in evidence everywhere. One team of volunteers who assembled for a photo was asked, "What neighborhood are you going into?"
"ACORN'S NEIGHBORHOOD!" one answered, and the others laughed in agreement.
The door-to-door effort was expected to take approximately 3 nights, including tonight. The subprime mortgages in question are from a very specific period of time, and so the numbers are more limited than one might suspect, making the effort quite manageable. For example, there are only 8 such mortgages in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. The lists in usage are known to be quite up-to-date.
As volunteers put on hats and gloves, and went out into the cold and dark winter night, I was oddly reminded of a volunteer search party seeking out the body of a crime victim. It seemed to me that success might be measured in saving only one family from the loss of a home, but if that happened, it would be worth approximately three evenings of effort by a dozen volunteers.
I watched from a vehicle as Jeff Skrenes and his team member visited the three houses on their list of eight. The first house on Third Ave. N. had a Hmong family who spoke no English and appeared to be renters. Language appropriate resources will be sent to the house in the future.
The second house had a man who was a renter, but had no interest in talking. At the third house, no lights were on except what appeared to be the dim light of a television in one back room. Nobody answered, but Jeff Skrenes was able to determine the name on the mailbox was different than the mortgage holder so, once again, probably a renter. Information was left at the house...not in the mailbox, of course, but on the doorknob. One goal of the program is, of course, to help renters avoid sudden, unexpected evictions in the wake of foreclosure.
More details about the "Hawthorne Arms Defense Program" will appear on this blog as they become available.
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