Formerly homeless Coon Rapids man takes Occupy pledge to fight eviction

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“I haven’t been homeless in over 14 years, and now we’re looking at being homeless again,” said Frank Clark, a union laborer who, together with his wife Christina, face eviction from their Coon Rapids home.

Clark lived on the streets of Los Angeles for nine years before sobering up, returning to Minnesota in the late 1990s and joined Local 563. He has worked on Minneapolis skyscrapers, bridges, roads and waste treatment plants, and poured concrete for the new 35-W bridge. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me — that brotherhood. From coming off the streets and having nothing, to working day labor to getting a good union job, it’s been a blessing.”

Christina said the Clarks paid their mortgage on time, but when the market crashed and construction jobs dried up, their money dwindled. The house, which they originally purchased for $230,000, was reacquired in a fire sale by Bank of America for $139,000. The Clarks claim that the bank is demanding the original mortgage price for them to remain in their home. Christina — who worked in the food kitchen at the Occupy Wall Street encampment on City Hall square in Minneapolis this winter — and Frank recently took the Occupy Homes pledge to resist foreclosure and stay in their home.

“It’s not gonna do any good to have another empty house in the neighborhood and everyone else’s taxes going up,” said Christina. “We don’t want a free house. That’s not what we want. We would like them to come to the table with an earnest offer of what they sold the house themselves for.”

And their home foreclosure problem isn’t unique, as millions across the country find themselves in the same sinking boat.

“You see it everywhere: people moving back home with their parents,” said Christina. “You can’t throw a stone or talk to another person who hasn’t been touched by it somewhere along the line.”

For Frank, who was homeless in L.A., having a home means more than just four walls, a roof and a bed. Their home has been an oasis of sorts for friends he met in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

“I would sleep in people’s yards, would look in their windows, and I would see the Christmas tree and the kids running back and forth, and I’d cry myself to sleep most holidays,” Frank recalled, with emotion in his voice. “I wanted to have a home like that. I wanted a home of my own.”