Beloved DC Pastor Fights Eviction; Occupy Our Homes DC Pressing Bank of America for JusticeHan Shan on September 02, 2012
UPDATE Sept. 10th: Supporters of Rev. Vanzant's fight to keep his home got Bank of America's attention. Unfortunately, the bank still doesn't get it. According to Occupy Our Homes DC:
While Rev. Michael Vanzant was in the hospital recovering from a minor stroke brought on by Bank of America's plans to evict him, we foreclosed on BofA's DC Home Loan office while also asking supporters to shut down their phone lines. We were successful on both fronts. That same day, BofA called Rev. Vanzant in the hospital to set up a call to discuss solutions. Once that discussion began, though, it became clear that they hadn't quite heard us. Rev Vanzant was offered more money to move out of his home in a gentrifying area of NE DC. He is not interested, though we are all pleased that we've made it onto their radar.
We are asking you to take a moment to call the DC Home Loan office and let them know that this isn't about money - this is about keeping communities intact. Please call and demand they work with Rev. Vanzant on a modification - he is not leaving.
Bank of America Home Loan office - DC - 202-797-4940
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An admired DC pastor is fighting to keep his Northeast Washington DC home, with the support of Occupy Our Homes DC. Reverend Robert Michael Vanzant serves as the outreach pastor for DC's Faith Temple, and is a staunch supporter of LGBT rights. When Rev. Vanzant's income was cut after going on disability two years ago, he appealed to Bank of America for a modification of the mortgage on his home of 24 years. But despite repeated requests, B of A hasn't budged.
Occupy Our Homes DC is supporting Rev. Vanzant and recently helped him create a petition to Bank of America. In the petition, he writes:
"I've spent my life serving God and my community. When I became disabled and my income dropped, I reached out and asked for a modification so that I could continue to pay my mortgage. You denied my request and set me up for foreclosure and eviction.
As a young man, my church threw me out for being gay. I renewed my faith in God and started a church for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
With that same resolve, I will fight for my home and the homes of my brothers and sisters being thrown out on the streets by bankers like you.
I ask that you modify my mortgage so that I am able to live with dignity as I grow old and continue serving God and my community."
According to Occupy Our Homes DC, the disabled and aging pastor suffered a minor stroke due to the stress he's been experienceing at the prospect of losing his home of more than two decades. Friends and community of Rev. Vanzant marched today to a DC Bank of America loan office, demanding B of A find a solution.
Sign the petition to demand Bank of America do the right thing, and keep Rev. Vanzant in his home.
Today, Occupy Our Homes DC and friends and admirers of Rev. Vanzant marched in support of the pastor's plight, and the protest appears to have helped. After the rally, Bank of America reportedly contacted Rev. Vanzant for an appointment to discuss his mortgage.
Unfortunately, Rev. Vanzant was not out to advocate on his own behalf today. He was instead at Washington Hospital Center, undergoing tests, after his recent stroke.
The Faith Temple doesn't have its own facility, with parishioners worshipping at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and friends pointed out that the pastor's home serves as his church's unofficial rectory.
Isaiah Poole, who served as an elder at the Faith Temple alongside Rev. Vanzant, was out today to rally in support of his old friend. Talking about the importance of saving Rev. Vanzant's home, he told the Washington Post, "We hold Bible study there. We hold church events there. Our old church organ is in his house."
As Occupy Our Homes DC writes in the petition to save his home:
For more than two decades Reverend Robert Michael Vanzant has been a pillar of strength in his community in Northeast DC. He opened his heart and his home--his friends and neighbors have made his home a place of shelter for the less fortunate and a place of compassion for those in need of healing. Now Bank of America wants to take it all away.