Online Extra: Gay, disabled man evicted from longtime home
by David-Elijah Nahmod
A gay, disabled African American man who has been fighting his foreclosure ran out of time Thursday morning when San Francisco Sheriff's deputies evicted him.
Larry Faulk, 59, is now living in his minivan, he told the Bay Area Reporter December 13.
"All I did was apply for a loan modification," Faulks said. "And now I'm living in my car. Thank you, Wells Fargo."
As previously reported, Faulks had been in the process of negotiating a loan modification with mortgage holder Wells Fargo. According to Faulks, the bank sold his home without his knowledge to DMG Asset Management, a firm with a history of buying foreclosed homes in the Bay Area. DMG has since sold the home to a new owner who hopes to move in shortly.
Faulks and his family were the first African Americans to buy a home in Diamond Heights back in 1962 when only the Eichler firm would sell homes to blacks in that neighborhood. Faulks had a successful career working as a technical writer. After a medical emergency and failed surgery, he became permanently disabled. He, his disabled brother, and a tenant live in the family home.
On Wednesday, December 12, a group of about 20 protesters from Occupy the Auctions, a fair housing activist organization, staged a protest in front of Faulks's home. The protest was organized by Will Doherty (a.k.a. Stardust) and Tommi Avicolli Mecca, both of whom have a long history of fair housing activism within the LGBT community.
Expecting the sheriff at any moment, Faulks packed his minivan with a few belongings. He said that he would be driving down to Half Moon Bay and would live in the van temporarily while he contemplated his next move.
"The war is not over," Faulks told Bay Area Reporter as he worked Wednesday. "I'm going on a short vacation. I've made a database of campsites with showers."
As the protesters sang "Silent Night, Homeless Night" (an Avicolli Mecca composition), Faulks's brother Jon, 48, served hot coffee and tea. Jon Faulks is also disabled. The younger Faulks is being allowed to remain in the building, along with the tenant, for the time being due to San Francisco's rigid rent control laws.
"I'm a bit crushed," Jon Faulks said. "I'm having some anxiety about what the future will bring. It's hard to figure out what your options are."
For its part, DMG Asset Management said that it had tried to settle the dispute with Faulks.
"DMG has made various attempts to settle the matter with Mr. Faulks, including an offer of cash for keys, as well as an offer to sell the property back to Mr. Faulks at DMG's documented out of pockets costs, which continue to accrue on a daily basis. Unfortunately, Mr. Faulks has rejected all of DMG's settlement offers," said a statement provided by DMG attorney Jak Marquez.
Faulks had help from two San Francisco supervisors who tried to halt the eviction, though they were only able to delay it. Both Supervisors Scott Wiener and John Avalos contacted Wells Fargo and DMG Asset Management on Faulks's behalf to urge Wells Fargo to pursue a resolution other than a holiday eviction, according to a statement from Occupy the Auctions.
Faulks maintains that he has repeatedly sent documents to the bank and management company and has been given the runaround.
"I'd like to give Wells Fargo and DMG Management creative writing awards because they've written some of the best fiction I've seen," said Faulks. "I sent them everything they requested. They claim to have never gotten documents that I personally handed to Wells Fargo home preservation specialist Justin Palmer Saavedra."
The B.A.R. was unable to reach Saavedra to request a comment.
Housing activists said Faulks shouldn't have to buy his house back from DMG.
"Wells Fargo should undo the sale to DMG, and pay DMG's expenses if necessary," said Doherty. "They should offer Larry a fair deal loan modification with principal reduction as needed to make the loan affordable. After selling off a disabled African American gay senior's home without trying to work out an affordable loan modification and without properly notifying him of the sale, Wells Fargo needs to make this right."
Several of the protesters in front of the Faulks home Wednesday handed out fliers to passersby announcing a joint action from Senior and Disability Action and San Francisco Gray Panthers. On Tuesday, December 18, at noon, seniors will converge upon Wells Fargo Bank at 1 Grant Street in San Francisco. In protest against what they call the bank's predatory practices, the seniors will publicly close their Wells Fargo accounts.
As the protest in front of the Faulks home concluded Wednesday, two sheriff's deputies briefly visited the scene, saying they were "checking out" its location. They said they could not identify themselves to press or offer a statement. They stated that they would return at an unnamed date soon to carry out the eviction.
Deputies and DMG's Marquez then arrived Thursday morning.
In another housing issue, activists will stage a protest in the Castro next week.
On Wednesday, December 19 at noon, Avicolli Mecca and others will be in front of the holiday tree at the corner of 18th and Castro streets, speaking out against Ellis Act evictions, in which tenants are displaced by owners.
"Residents of three neighborhoods – the Mission, the Castro, and Chinatown/North Beach – will come together to protest against Ellis Act evictions," Avicolli Mecca said. "State legislators must repeal the Ellis Act."
Faulks, as an owner, is not the subject of an Ellis Act eviction, but they are becoming somewhat more common after several years of decline, activists noted.