Thanksgiving Surprise: Jaymie Kelly gets help from the top in fight to keep her Minneapolis home

A 2,499-character email to the White House (one character less than the maximum for an email to the President) from a Minneapolis woman at the center of a high-profile fight to save her home has prompted a promise to investigate the situation from a top government agency that oversees mortgage lenders.

It’s not clear whether direct help for Jaymie Kelly is on the way from The White House, but intervention by the government agency charged with regulating mortgage companies could signal a significant shift in Kelly’s struggle to keep her home. For one thing, it might mean no more heavy-handed police actions like a Nov. 5 raid on Kelly’s home, conducted while she was waking up on election day and hoping her candidacy for mayor would help rally support for her fight.

Kelly has been engaged in a long-running effort to keep her South Minneapolis home of 30 years, assisted by Occupy Homes activists. She was a candidate for mayor of Minneapolis but nearly lost her home on election day when Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies made a violent pre-dawn raid on her house, breaking down doors and windows before activists rushed to Kelly’s defense and private security guards who had taken possession of the house after the sheriff’s raid decided to leave.

After appealing to the White House for help, Kelly received a welcome phone call eight days later from the Office of the Inspector General of the FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) — the regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which has investigated possible fraud by Freddie Mac and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The caller said the agency will investigate her case. When Kelly thanked the caller, she says, he responded by saying the decision was made by higher authority: “They had no choice, they did it because they were ordered to do so by the White House.”

Kelly had sent an email to President Obama describing her battle with JPMorgan and Freddie Mac as she has been attempting to negotiate a new mortgage on her home of 30 years. Her story is similar to many foreclosures around the country. Confusion, misrepresentation and possible fraud had forced her home — which she has paid for several times over — into foreclosure. Occupy Homes Minnesota has supplied volunteers for several months to help plead her case and to prevent her eviction.

On Monday, a delegation of about 20 friends and supporters gathered outside of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s office to protest Kelly’s treatment in the election day raid. The door to the sheriff’s outer office was unlocked. (Mary Murphy, one of the participants, said this was the first time in many demonstrations that this had happened.) The delegation entered the office before it could be secured and Stanek agreed to meet with Kelly and four other members of the group. During the meeting, Kelly asked Stanek if he thought she was a “domestic terrorist,” echoing a statement that had been made to her daughter by Stanek’s deputies on Nov. 5. Stanek replied that he thought Kelly was “a nice lady.”

Tempers flared a bit when the group pressed Stanek on the use of excessive force. Murphy, long-time peace activist, reported that Stanek “came down hard with his intimidating loud voice and red face.” She told him, “What you do is give license to your own troops with that attitude and kind of empower them to behave the way they did that day.”
“I did my church lady best,” she said later of her conversation with the sheriff.

Cat Salonek, Occupy Homes Minnesota organizer, said, “I think what was productive was that we were able to tell (Stanek) it’s not going to be acceptable to use county resources to do Wall Street’s bidding.”

Kelly believes there will be no more sheriff’s actions against her. Once they had escorted Kelly and her daughter outside the home, she says, the deputies had completed their role in any eviction. It is now up to the police and private security agencies to decide whether they will take any further action. Newly elected Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has said she does not want the police involved in further actions against Kelly. It’s still unknown what steps. if any, the FHFA will take.

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Bill Sorem's picture
Bill Sorem