ACORN crashes foreclosure auction

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ACORN members were kicked out of a Jamaica courtroom Friday for disrupting a foreclosure auction by bidding “zero dollars” for homes up on the block and chanting “Stop the auction!”

Jocelyn Voltaire, a Queens Village woman who joined ACORN — a nonprofit advocacy group that his been vocal about foreclosures and the subprime lending crisis — after going through foreclosure last year, was screaming hysterically and begged court officers to shoot her.

Before she entered the courtroom on Sutphin Boulevard, Voltaire and some 20 other ACORN members protested outside the courthouse steps, pressing for a one−year moratorium on foreclosures to give the affected a chance to keep their homes.

Voltaire, a 55−year−old single mother, bought her Queens Village home in 1987, but refinanced in 2000 to fund her son’s education. She refinanced again in 2007 to open a grocery store, but she claimed the terms of the loan were not explained to her. Her first mortgage payments in 1987 were $800 a month, but ballooned to $3,800 during her second refinancing.

“They didn’t even talk to me,” she said of the bank. “They’ve killed me alive from this.”

Voltaire’s home was not one of the 127 up for sale at the auction and she credited ACORN, which is working with her financial institution to get her affordable payments, with enabling her to stay in her home for the time being.

Pat Boone, executive director of the New York chapter of ACORN, said foreclosure auctions like the one on Friday are “happening every single week.”

“The foreclosure crisis, especially here in Queens, is terrible,” she said. “Queens homeowners have been the hardest hit in New York City with the collapse of the housing crisis.”

She said 482 borough properties received foreclosure notices in 2008.

“New York state needs to step in and put a stop to these foreclosure actions,” Boone said. She suggested placing a one−year moratorium on foreclosures.

The group then entered the courthouse and viewed the auctions, where prospective buyers sat with laptops viewing the Web page for the foreclosure site

When a referee conducting the auction asked for any offers above $261,277 — a bid made by a bank for a Jamaica home — one ACORN member stood up.

“There’s no reason these homes need to be sold,” he said. “Zero dollars.”

“Zero dollars. People should be staying in their homes,” another said.

The process repeated for two other auctions before the group stood up and shouted for the auctions to stop.

They were then quickly whisked away by court officers and chanted “We will be back” as they left through the revolving door.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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