RIVERSIDE – A Riverside man occupying a home from which he and his family were evicted in a foreclosure said today that he’s trying to negotiate to get the property back and hoped that, in the meantime, Riverside County sheriff’s deputies wouldn’t arrest him.
”But if I get arrested, at least it’ll be making the point that the bank is messing up,” Arturo de los Santos told City News Service.
Since Dec. 6, de los Santos has been staying in a three-bedroom house in the 3700 block of Layton Court that he, his wife Magdalena, and their two boys and two girls called home for eight years. The entire family has been back together in the residence since Christmas Eve.
De los Santos, 46, was one of 30 people who took part in last month’s ”National Occupy Homes Day,” a spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street movement intended to spotlight alleged abuses in the mortgage industry.
Former property owners whose houses were repossessed went back to the places to reside, effectively trespassing.
De los Santos said he has received an eviction notice from the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. — universally known as Freddie Mac — which holds the note to the foreclosed Layton Court property.
During a hearing today at the Moreno Valley Courthouse, lawyers for Freddie Mac were expected to seek a judicial writ ordering de los Santos and his family out of the house under threat of arrest. But according to the former U.S. Marine, errors in court paperwork led a judge to vacate the hearing.
De los Santos said he doesn’t know what’s next.
”I wanted to speak with the sheriff to tell him, please, don’t evict us,” de los Santos said.
He presented a letter outlining his case to a sheriff’s representative. The sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
De los Santos said he is continuing to attempt contact with representatives from Chase bank, from which he obtained his original mortgage for the house, in the hopes of working out a loan modification that would allow him to reacquire the house. But he’s heard nothing back.
The longtime metal worker sued Chase, alleging deceptive lending practices, and filed for personal bankruptcy, in an attempt to prevent the foreclosure. However, both legal actions have since been abandoned.
Francisco Perpely with Alpha One Group, a Riverside brokerage firm that is managing the property on behalf of Freddie Mac, told CNS that all decisions regarding the disposition of the property are coming from ”the bank,” but declined to say anything more.
The Occupy Homes campaign is backed by a number of groups, including ReFund California, The New Bottom Line, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Take Back the Land, SOUL, the Service Employees International Union and New York Communities for Change.
De los Santos purchased the Layton Court house, which sits on the edge of a cul de sac in Riverside’s La Sierra neighborhood, in 2003 but fell behind on his loan payments in 2009 after business plummeted at the Santa Ana factory where he’s employed as a supervisor.
He applied for a loan modification to pare down his monthly principal and interest costs, but he alleges that representatives of Chase refused to accept the proposed terms and initiated foreclosure proceedings, forcing him and his family to vacate the home last June, at which point they relocated to an apartment in Orange County.
”We’re glad to be back in the house,” de los Santos said. ”My kids are happy. They have a place to ride their bikes and play. Their school is just around the corner. They don’t understand what’s going on.”
He said the atmosphere at the house remains ”tense,” not knowing when there might be a knock on the door and a deputy escorts them out.
”Hopefully that won’t happen,” de los Santos said.