05/25/2012 07:43 am ET

Activists Bring Trash From Foreclosed Home To Chase Bank

A group of Miami activists brought a present to Chase Bank: their trash.

Members of 1Miami collected garbage and overgrown shrubs Thursday on a foreclosed property in Little Havana owned by Chase, then dumped the bags at a branch on SW 27th Street.

“We’re sick and tired of the big banks coming and destroying our neighborhoods,” Miriam Pautista said through a translator.

The group, a collective of neighborhood associations, faith organizations and workers, spent about half an hour tidying up the neglected property at 3221 SW 4th Street, where an iron gate over the front door was open, stray cats roamed the yard, loose wires hung from the walls, wiring was exposed in open electrical boxes, flies swarmed over a fresh mound of feces in the front yard, and paint was peeling off.

A sign on the home’s front window announced that the property is managed by Chase Home Finance, LLC.

After collecting the garbage, the group drove a mile down the street to deliver what they called the bank’s “property.” Marching into the front doors, they left behind garbage bags of trash and signs reading “Cleaning our neighborhood because Chase won’t” and “Chase clean up your mess!” with six photos of the home.

After they left, a bank employee surveyed the mess while speaking on her cell phone. A call to the branch’s manager was not returned.

Little Havana neighbor Felicia de Vera doesn’t remember anyone having lived at the property in her 4 years on the block. She said about 30 cats roam the yard, and there are often squatters that go into the house. Because of this, de Vera said a family that lives nearby won’t let their daughter play outside.

“The people are concerned that it’s happening, but they’re afraid to say anything,” de Vera said through a translator.

Earlier this month, another local activist group delivered trash to a Miami Bank of America. A report on bad neighbor banks by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel documented increasingly "desperate tactics" residents are taking to hold banks responsible for the blight swallowing foreclosed homes, but suggested Florida -- a strong pro-business state with a heavy banking lobby -- is unlikely to adopt other states' new laws requiring banks to correct code violations during the foreclosure process:

"I think you'd run into a lot of problems from a constitutional, property-law perspective," said state Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and real estate attorney. "I just don't think it's good public policy to require people who aren't titled owners to a property to maintain it. I think the real issue is making sure these foreclosures go through in a timely process."

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