Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson was founded by long-term community activists in Poughkeepsie, NY, many of whom had been foreclosed on in the past. These activists came together and launched the group in late 2011, as members of Occupy Poughkeepsie’s anti-foreclosure working group. Throughout 2012, we slowly built a base of several local homeowners. After attending a June 2012 training hosted by the Right to the City Alliance, we began using the “Sword and Shield” organizing model, pioneered by City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston, which involves using complementary legal strategy and public protest to defend peoples’ homes from the big Wall Street Banks. This model, and our Home Defense Association meetings, allowed us to bring in an analysis of the foreclosure crisis that took the blame off of homeowners, and shift the conversation to holding banks accountable for fixing the housing crisis that they caused.
In September 2012, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson anchored a regional protest of 300 people in NYC as a part of Right to the City’s campaign to push Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who own over half of the mortgages in the US) to put a moratorium on evictions, turn over vacant buildings to community control, sell properties to non-profits instead of hedge funds, and pursue principal reduction. Other regional protests took place across the country, and a national protest in Washington D.C. followed shortly. We received coverage from outlets across the country, including In These Times, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. These actions led Fannie Mae to schedule regular meetings between Executive Vice-Presidents and Right to the City to negotiate these demands. The actions were also crucial to pushing President Obama to get rid of Ed DeMarco, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
In 2013, we won our first major victory against Bank of America, with a series of public protests in defense of homeowner Flavia Perry. Flavia’s home was set to be auctioned off by Bank of America, but because of our months of public and legal struggles, she won back her home and an affordable mortgage. This victory showed the collective power of homeowners and allies standing up to banks.
We anchored a regional direct action at Freddie Mac’s New York office in February 2014 to deliver over 10,000 petition signatures to pressure Mel Watt, the new head of the FHFA, for principal reduction. With other regional actions it resulted in ongoing dialogue and a 2015 meeting to discuss our demands. In June of 2014 we hired our first full-time paid staff, Margaret Kwateng and Jonathan Bix.
In April 2014, we prevented the eviction of Rosanne Phillips and her family after they came to us with a 10-day notice to leave their home. The Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union initially refused to negotiate, but after we held a vigil outside of HVFCU’s main branch, the Credit Union offered Rosanne a deal to buy back her home.
In November 2014, Nobody Leaves was instrumental in helping to pass a Poughkeepsie ordinance requiring banks to post a $10,000 bond to the city for each foreclosed or vacant property they own. This will save the city millions of dollars in expenses and bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue.
In late 2014 and early 2015, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson is expanding the anti-displacement fight to include the local struggle against utility monopoly Central Hudson.