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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Occupy Our Homes Atlanta confronts Fannie Mae chairman over home loans

Rob Call of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta asks Fannie Mae Chairman Egbert Perry what can be done to keep a man diagnosed with renal kidney failure in his home
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • Rob Call of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta asks Fannie Mae Chairman Egbert Perry what can be done to keep a man diagnosed with renal kidney failure in his home
Egbert Perry didn't plan to make news today. The Fannie Mae chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based developer Integral Group, speaking at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon high above Downtown in the Commerce Club, joked and told the banquet room packed with financial executives and media professionals that he was happy saying little of much consequence, considering Fannie was still under conservatorship.

Occupy Our Homes Atlanta went ahead and provided some fireworks for Perry. Housing activists interrupted Perry, who discussed his rags-to-riches story as an immigrant from Antigua and regionalism, to press him on how Fannie was preventing foreclosures, leading APC officials to ultimately and abruptly end the discussion.

Mark Harris, a Desert Storm veteran who was arrested last year fighting to save his home from foreclosure, interrupted Perry as he spoke about metro Atlanta's continued Balkanization. Harris says he paid $2,900 to Fannie last year to "show good faith" and keep his home but Fannie foreclosed on the Avondale Estates property regardless. He's now living with his mother in the West End and, along with three others arrested, fighting charges stemming from the arrest.

Perry apologized and said he did not know the specifics about Harris' case, and moderator Maria Saporta asked if anyone from the government-sponsored enterprise was able to assist Harris. The discussion continued.

After the floor was opened to questions, Rob Call of OOHA stood up to speak for Zannie Jackson of Austell, who is battling kidney failure. Longtime OOHA organizer Tim Franzen and Deanne Dunbar, also of OOHA, distributed materials and held signs that read "Shame on Fannie Mae." OOHA says that Jackson's servicer wants to modify his loan to an affordable rate. But activists say Fannie, which owns the loan, has refused to cooperate. Jackson was scheduled to attend, Franzen says, but had to cancel because he needed an extra round of dialysis.

Saporta requested Call state his question and allow Perry to answer. She asked Franzen, who was holding a sign in front of the attendees, to sit down and he responded, "We have tried for two years to create dialogue so we're forced to do this."

"I sympathize with what you're trying to do, but this is not how you do it," Saporta told Franzen. Later Saporta said she thought that OOHA didn't give Perry, who she thinks might probably be "sympathetic to the plight" of the men and women the group helps, an opportunity to answer the questions and comment.

APC Executive Director Lauri Strauss ended the meeting. Afterward, OOHA activists received a card to follow up with a Fannie official. Harris, when asked if he felt he received any closure, said "hell no."

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