On August 18, 2015 over 65 Common Ground leaders stood on the lawn at 2441 N. 44th St. listening to Sandra Taylor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church tell the sad and horrifying story of this once beautiful home.
“Many of you were here with Common Ground on January 29 when we showed Milwaukee the kind of house that Bucks owner Wesley Edens and his company, Nationstar Mortgage were allowing to blight our neighborhoods. We urged him to clean up his mess and be a good citizen of Milwaukee.
“Shortly after that action Mr. Edens – who is being called the Subprime King – transferred control of the house to the ‘Foreclosure King,’ Odell Barnes of South Carolina.
“Do you think he cleaned it up? NO! In fact, there have been two fires in the house since February. In the second one, a helpless dog was caught on the upper porch and burned to death! Its rotting carcass hung from the house for months as neighborhood children played near by.”
Common Ground has been pressing Nationstar Mortgage Company and its majority shareholder, Bucks owner Wesley Edens, to comply with three city ordinances that require mortgage servicing companies to inform the City Attorney’s office of foreclosures, transfers, and sales of properties they control.
Nationstar is the second largest mortgage servicer in the city of Milwaukee, where they service 3477 mortgages. Nationstar’s CEO, Jay Bray, told Common Ground representatives that 201 of these houses are currently foreclosed or vacant. But city records show only 56 such properties.
“Failure to comply with the ordinances allows Nationstar to hide their mess by selling quietly to known bad actors like Odell Barnes or registering properties in its renamed internal collection organization, Veripro,” explained Common Ground organizer Allie Gardner.
Speaking for the assembled crowd, Sandra Taylor laid out these four demands:
1. Nationstar, obey City of Milwaukee laws and give the city your list of 201 foreclosed and vacant properties. Stop dragging your feet.
2. Milwaukee Common Council President Murphy and Mayor Barrett – Push Nationstar to put real money on the table and get a deal before the you vote on city tax dollars for Mr.Edens. Do not let them get away with hiding their mess!
3. City of Milwaukee – sue Nationstar for violating a city ordinance if it does not hand over the list of their properties within a reasonable time frame.
4. Subprime King Edens – stop selling to foreclosure kings and grant properties to responsible local non-profits.
In conclusion, Ms. Taylor led volunteers in hard hats and rubber gloves in to remove trash saying, “Since Mr. Edens won’t clean up his messes, WE will do it. Then we will box it up and deliver it to Mr. Edens’ Bucks office so he can see the results of his company’s neglect.”
P.S. 65+ Common Ground leaders preformed an action of citizens’ eminent domain, cleaning up the house without any police presence or questioning.
By contrast, when Common Ground leaders attempted to deliver the boxes of trash to the Bucks office, private security guards and members of the Milwaukee Police department stopped them from even entering the parking lot.
To find out more about our efforts with Wes Edens, click HERE.