A couple of years back Minnesota security officer John Vinje and his wife bought a little home in Bloomington, Minnesota.
“For whatever reason, she fell in love with this itty bitty house in Bloomington,” John says.
Bloomington is a nice town, a place where lots of folks would want to live. It offers urban living, lots of parks, and prosperity—thanks to a thriving retail and hospitality sector. There’s also a memorial to local hero Tom Burnett, a Bloomington native, who was among the 44 people killed on United Airlines Flight 93 during the September 11 terrorist attacks. John, a veteran of the United States Air Force, appreciates that.
They bought the house and moved in. John had his job. His wife had hers. They met their responsibilities, working hard and making house payments to USBank, which is headquartered in Minnesota. They were comfortable and well established.
Or so they thought.
“Due to a change in my wife’s work duties, she lost $2,000 a month in income,” John says.
Soon they were unable to make payments. They tried to work things out with USBank. “We tried to get a loan modification like you’re supposed to. USBank would say, ‘Yes, we’ll work with you.’ But they kept saying they never got our paperwork or that they lost it. We must have sent the stuff in like eight times. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they were pursuing foreclosure.”
John and his wife lost their home to USBank—the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank, which raked in $19.1 billion in revenue in 2011.
Why did they lose their home to USBank? “They can make more by foreclosing on you than by accepting your payments,” says John.
John and his wife are trying to get back on their feet. John is one of 6,000 Twin Cites janitors and security officers who are negotiating with their employers for the good jobs that our community needs to strengthen our economy and bolster a rising, thriving middle class.
Knowing that rebuilding the middle class is a task for all of us, John and his fellow security officers are joining together with members of community groups, faith-based groups, environmental groups, student groups, and labor groups under the banner of “Unlock Our Future” to open the doors of prosperity to all Minnesotans.
“If they keep this up, pretty soon there isn’t going to be a middle class,” says John. “We’re going to have ghost towns like during the Depression.”
But John will be taking to the streets with fellow Minnesotans, proposing an alternative version of the future. “Communities will benefit from the creation of good jobs because there wouldn’t be all these vacant, boarded-up homes. People will be able to spend more in the local community and we’ll be able to invest in infrastructure.”