After Foreclosure, Woman Breaks Back into, Squats

Some former homeowners fighting foreclosure are using drastic measures to reclaim their homes: they're taking them back by force.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The bank took her home. Tanya Dennis, a former East Bay school principal, took it back.

    After two years of negotiations with her lender, Wells Fargo, ended in foreclosure, Dennis made a call to a locksmith, who helped her break back into her South Berkeley home of 27 years. The home, left vacant after the bank took possession, is one of many in the Bay Area where the former owners are taking drastic measures against a foreclosing bank, the Bay Citizen reported.

    "These banks got billions of dollars of our money," Dennis told the Bay Citizen. "We can't afford to be complacent."

    Dennis's actions, while drastic and illegal, is a "home defense," according to organizers with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which has organized "dozens" such actions in the area since January 2010, the Web site reported. The group has protested evictions of churches as well as homes.

    Joseph Tolero, a former Alameda County sheriff's deputy whose Antioch home was foreclosed upon in 2009, took a less militant approach: he wrote letters to his lender, Bank of America, as well as his representatives in Congress to explain his situation. A new lending agreement is nearly in place, and the home is back in his name.

    Dennis, however, is now "virtually squatting" in a house that's nearly empty, after a real estate agent tore up all the carpets and sold her furniture. She has thus far avoided a second eviction, however, filing a federal lawsuit to do so without the help of a lawyer.