In the midst of a campaign to help "fulfill" the "vision" of Martin Luther King Jr., JPMorgan Chase has come under fire for threatening to evict an elderly Civil Rights-era activist.
The bank may foreclose on the home of 78-year-old Helen Bailey, a Nashville, Tennessee-based former civil rights activist because she can't keep up with her mortgage payments, according to a petition to save her house on Change.org. Bailey attempted to refinance with with a company that would have let her stay in the home until she died, but she says she couldn't convince Chase to reduce her principal by $9,000.
Other civil rights activists have already joined the more than 35,000 people that signed on to the petition asking the bank to accept an offer to purchase Bailey's home from an alternate buyer. The uproar comes as the bank is featuring a page on its website touting its commitment to "do our part to uphold Dr. King's vision."
Bailey's home state isn't at the center of the foreclosure crisis -- only one out of every 885 Tennessee housing units received a foreclosure filing in December, according to RealtyTrac. Still, prominent leaders have come by her side.
"I strongly support my dear sister Helen Bailey," Princeton professor and civil rights activist Cornel West said in a press release from Change.org. "Her struggle for justice is legendary. I stand with her."
In addition to West, other black community leaders as well as the Occupy Nashville protesters have taken up Bailey's cause. If efforts prove unsuccessful, Bailey will be forced to leave her home on February 15.
Some within the "Occupy" movement have sharpened their focus on foreclosure-related issues. In December, a group of activists marched in the East New York neighborhood in Brooklyn -- the area with the highest foreclosure rate in the city -- in an aim to move homeless families into the neighborhood's foreclosed homes.
JPMorgan isn't first bank to draw unwanted attention because of a controversial foreclosure. Bank of America, for one, threatened foreclosure in November over a missing one dollar payment on a home that was already sold. In October, an elderly couple was faced with the possibility of foreclosure after making a payment too early and using an incorrect routing number on a different payment.
All together, 2.6 million foreclosure filings were handed to 1.8 million housing units last year, according to RealtyTrac.
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