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News + PoliticsBayview pastor faces eviction as community fights back

Bayview pastor faces eviction as community fights back

The foreclosure crisis continues as religious leader tries to save his home in Bayview

ACCE activists protest the eviction of Pastor Yul Dorn and his family
ACCE activists protest the eviction of Pastor Yul Dorn and his family

JANUARY 13, 2016 — A group of 20 people are gathered in front of the garage of 3 Las Villas Court, in the Bayview. It’s 8:30am, but everyone is wide awake and strategizing.

Word is that the sheriffs will arrive this morning to evict the residents, Pastor Yul Dorn and his family. It’s a story that’s been repeated too many times in San Francisco’s Black community, and organizers are fighting back.

Grace Martinez, a staff member with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), puts up a white cardboard banner with a cell phone number scribbled on it, and everyone huddles up in the corner. Instructions are clear: The number belongs to Quan He, who bought the property six months ago and has been looking to force the Dorn family out. Volunteers get to work carefully drafting text messages to Mr. He and demanding he postpone the eviction.

Dorn is refusing to vacate
Dorn is refusing to vacate

Dorn is a long time community leader, anti-violence advocate, chaplain at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, and a pastor of Emanuel Church Of God In Christ.  Dorn’s world spun upside down when he received an eviction notice on December 22nd, three days before Christmas; he was given 14 days to leave his home.

“You hear these stories but you can never imagine it would be this rough,” he tells me. “This is nothing but economic terrorism against low-hanging fruits, the African American community that is being selectively wiped out of the city’s neighborhoods.” His wife Teresa holds his hand as they sit on the stairway to their home.

Teresa, who works part time as a crossing guard at a local school, George Washington Carver Elementary, tells me the house is everything they have. “I pulled out of my retirement fund just to be able to pay for this house, I have worked 21 and a half years to be able to make this home for my family.” Clutched tightly in her hand is a photo album containing pictures of the day, 20 years ago, when they bought this house. The crowd is now 40 people strong.

In the background, ACCE volunteer Michelle Batte announces that Quan He has answered her call and is on his way over to the residence. The crowd breaks out in small applause and then regroups again to plan a strategy for his arrival.

Batte is an African American in her mid-30s, yet she knows what’s it like to worry about losing one’s home. “We are victims of predatory lending,” she says. “We were nearly evicted from our home, with my father sick. It was one of the worst times. But with persistence and with the help of ACCE we won, Well Fargo sold us our house back.” Batte is passionate, blunt, and determined to help others.

Dorn supporters try to reason with Quan He, who bought the property after a foreclosure sale
Dorn supporters try to reason with Quan He, who bought the property after a foreclosure sale

In 2008, Pastor Dorn says, he learned that Chase Bank put his home into default because of a misapplication of his payment. It’s a sadly familiar story. Over the years, he says, the bank refused to acknowledge its mistake despite a paper trail, and eventually sold the house. In January, 2015, a Bear Sterns subsidiary bought it, and sold it to Quan He in June, property records show.

Quan He, who owns or has bought and sold a significant amount of property in the city, including several other houses in Bayview, knew that there were people living in the place: “I was told that the house has people living in it but they are tenants. I bought the property I paid over $400,000 for it and I need to take possession,” a visibly flustered He announces to a few volunteers who walk up to speak to him as he enters the street.

John Eller, ACCE staff member, is meticulous and calm as he speaks to He. “Everyone that has gathered here to support Pastor Dorn is angry at the bank for bungling up his case. They are not blaming you and you have the opportunity to be a hero here. Give the family a 180 days to hold the bank accountable and bring in an investor to make you whole again. Only you can help them by postponing the eviction. Please call the sheriff.”

Batte interjects: “Take it from me, I have been through this, the bank will pay back your money or an investor will. You will get your money back and some more but you won’t get anything out of evicting a family, this has happened with our family and we were able to get our home back.”

He nods in disagreement. “Sue the bank then,” he argues back. A group of five volunteers begin reasoning with the landlord, as the conversation goes from a passionate argument to a mellow negotiation.

 

A soft spoken Christie Hakim, a Caucasian woman in her 70s, talks politely but defiantly. “What would it take for you to agree to a 180 days for the family, Mr. He?” Hakim went through a foreclosure in 2009, the same year she lost her husband. “I did not even know about the auction until people arrived at my home, frantic I ran to city hall to try and get help but it was too late.”

Nearly everyone in the crowd has a similar story to tell. Quan He, on the other hand is adamant: He keeps coming back with one reason to another but the demand remains the same — he wants possession of the house and he wants it immediately.

Vivian Richardson stands at a distance alongside Pastor Dorn. In 2011, Richardson faced a similar situation; she was about to be evicted. She contacted ACCE, and the emails, phone calls and press conferences that followed eventually saved her home. “It wasn’t just my home, it was 11 homes in my block at Quesada Avenue and I stood in front of each house and held a press conference. Eventually, all but three homes were saved, the three choose to walk away.” She says.

Gliddys Dewit’s story is different from the rest. She has been trying to save her home by requesting a mortgage refinance. “I have never missed one payment, not one payment, when I started paying my mortgage ten years ago it was $1,100 a month and now I pay $2,500 despite that I never missed any payments. They won’t grant my application for refinancing. The fact is that they don’t want people of color living in the neighborhoods anymore, they are just looking for the wealthy. There’s no room for people who were born here, who have lived here all their lives, there is no room for me here.” Dewitt, a retired nurse, said she feels the city is closing in on her.

In the corner, volunteers are still busy trying to explain the situation to He. “Do you understand that if you evict these people today they will have nowhere to go, where do you think they will go?” I ask him.

“To a hotel? I don’t know, of course they have somewhere to go” he responds back blankly.

Batte who until now was explaining the situation to He calmly, gets clearly agitated “Do you not get it? do you not understand? There is an eight-month-old baby in there who is going to lose his home, you said yourself you have kids.” He interrupts her: “Don’t bring my children in this, you guys you are portraying me as some kind of an evil person I am not, this is my house.”

At this point there have been a few suggestions from He and the crowd to resolve the situation, so Eller goes back to speak to Pastor Dorn in an attempt to chart down a deal.

After a brief but clear discussion with Dorn, Eller walks back to He. I can hear Eller patiently explain a possible deal.

Quan He continues to object. “What about the cost of the eviction? It will cost me more once again.” Eller tries to ask He how much he thinks it would cost him but Hai keeps throwing figures at him, it’s $10,000 USD one minute and $15,000 in another.

“All right” says Eller “What if we can get a bond as a guarantee?”

“No, but I want the possession of the property first” says He.

“You are not getting the possession, not today, not tomorrow, not the day after,” Eller says. “We have six supervisors that support the campaign, there are many examples of people reclaiming their property even after being evicted, and you will only lose more and more money. Give us time to go after the bank, to help with the loans, the family has agreed to pay a certain amount in rent to cover your cost.”

But He is having none of it. “I will wait for the sheriffs to come.”

“They are not coming” says Eller “Even if they do, you cannot win this, you are not going to win this.” Eller’s determination has little impact on He, who mutters that he will still wait for the sheriffs and will speak to his attorney.

Eller makes his last attempt of the day before walking away: “Call your attorney, ask him about our written guarantee, we will be here every day and we want to negotiate so the family can get the time they need to fight back.” Quan He walks away.

Eller’s colleague Martinez is busy planning the activities for the afternoon. As the crowd thins out, everyone is determined for the long haul. They’ll be coming back each day from 8am to noon until an agreement is reached. Their yellow badges saying “We Wont Go” shine strongly.

Sana Saleem
Sana Saleem is a writer with a focus on social justice and human stories. She's member board of advisory for the Courage Foundation, Edward Snowden's legal defense fund.
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32 COMMENTS

  1. Quan He purchased the house using his hardest earned money from bank. He also is a long-time volunteer serving the community with more than 3 to 4 hours every week for more than 10 years.
    The previous owner, Pastor Yul Dorn, a pastor at Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, a San Francisco Sheriff’s Department chaplain, and also a case manager at the Community Justice Center, hadn’t paid mortgage for 7 years and had lived there for 8 years for free.
    Bank took this house from Mr. Dorn due to the fact that he has not paid the mortgage since 2009, and Bank sold to Quan He.
    Mr. Dorn criticized Bank for miss-placing his payment resulted in his default. Mr. Dorn has seven years to make this right if indeed it’s bank error. And if bank does not correct for seven years resulting him losing his house,
    any free lawyer would jump to get this case and sue the the bank. But the fact is that Mr. Dorn didn’t sue the bank.
    After Quan purchased the property, Mr Dorn still claimed to Quan that this was “my property” because of bank’s mistake, which is nothing related to Quan He. And Mr.Dorn still claimed to live there free forever. Without any choice, Quan filed lawsuit to evict him. Quan won the case but the sheriff delayed the eviction for 3-4 months for Mr. Dorn.
    During the 3-4 month, in order to stop Quan He to evict Mr. Dorn and let Mr. Dorn live there for free for ever, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) asked its members to protest in front of Quan He’s home and seriously bothered his life. Their message was “home is for people, Home is not for profit”. So they claimed Quan He’s property as Mr. Dorn’s home.
    Quan went thru a lot starting from close of escrow in June, engaging an attorney, court order, 3-4 months of delay for eviction, 2 days of waiting by the subject property with locksmith, constant protesting phone calls, text messages, email harassment, etc. to delay eviction and to distract property repossession even he is the true and legal owner.
    After the eviction was executed, Quan presented another offer through his lawyer to Pastor Dorn’s lawyer. Offer was expired due to no reply.
    Mr. Dorn was arrested by refusing leaving the property, and cried he and his family had no place to leave and had no money.
    The truth was Mr. Dorn cashed out almost one million dollar from his two owned houses. The question is how and where Mr. Dorn spent his money.
    They are still legal owner of the their 2nd house, so they do have a place to live.
    Now Mr. Dorn is getting fund from government and donation from ACCE

  2. Quan He purchased the house using his hardest earned money from bank. He also is a long-time volunteer serving the community with more than 3 to 4 hours every week for more than 10 years.
    The previous owner, Pastor Yul Dorn, a pastor at Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, a San Francisco Sheriff’s Department chaplain, and also a case manager at the Community Justice Center, hadn’t paid mortgage for 7 years and had lived there for 8 years for free. Bank took this house from Mr. Dorn due to the fact that he has not paid the mortgage since 2009, and Bank sold to Quan He. Mr. Dorn criticized Bank for miss-placing his payment resulted in his default. Mr. Dorn has seven years to make this right if indeed it’s bank error. And if bank does not correct for seven years resulting him losing his house, any free lawyer would jump to get this case and sue the the bank. But the fact is that Mr. Dorn didn’t sue the bank. After Quan purchased the property, Mr Dorn still claimed to Quan that this was “my property” because of bank’s mistake, which is nothing related to Quan He. And Mr.Dorn still claimed to live there free forever. Without any choice, Quan filed lawsuit to evict him. Quan won the case but the sheriff delayed the eviction for 3-4 months for Mr. Dorn. During the 3-4 month, in order to stop Quan He to evict Mr. Dorn and let Mr. Dorn live there for free for ever, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) asked its members to protest in front of Quan He’s home and seriously bothered his life. Their message was “home is for people, Home is not for profit”. So they claimed Quan He’s property as Mr. Dorn’s home. Quan went thru a lot starting from close of escrow in June, engaging an attorney, court order, 3-4 months of delay for eviction, 2 days of waiting by the subject property with locksmith, constant protesting phone calls, text messages, email harassment, etc. to delay eviction and to distract property repossession even he is the true and legal owner. After the eviction was executed, Quan presented another offer through his lawyer to Pastor Dorn’s lawyer. Offer was expired due to no reply. Mr. Dorn was arrested by refusing leaving the property, and cried he and his family had no place to leave and had no money. The truth was Mr. Dorn cashed out almost one million dollar from his two owned houses owned by him. The question is how and where Mr. Dorn spent his money. They are still legal owner of the their house, so they do have a place to live. Now Mr. Dorn is getting fund from government and donation from ACCE

  3. maybe it is the reason, they spend 8 years to look for different brokers, and keep spending. It ends up foreclosure.

  4. Poor the new house owner. 48Hills aritical wrong again for the the misrepresending: The He is NOT LANDLORD, he is only the new owner. And I don’t get it the ACCE John in what position to tell the new owner to give additional 6 month ( 180 days). If the owner takes it, by law, he will grant the old owner process the house, and he will automatic lose his 400k . NEVER LET TENANT UNION get any process the house! THEY ARE SO GOOD AT PROCESS OTHERS’ RIGHT OF OWN THE PROPERTY.

    And What is the right about no payment to the bank? PAY YOUR BILLS so you desire to live!

  5. I am curious about the house they inherited. Did they lose that too? I used to have a shop on Quesada and for years I drove by a house on Quesada with a big sign in the window about how bad Wells Fargo was. There were quite a few protests in front of the house, I stopped once to ask questions and found out that this was another inherited house that was paid in full. The relative had pulled out a lot of cash for nice cars etc and then wanted to cry predatory lending.
    Everyone goes through hard times but if you sign a contract be right don’t cry later.

  6. $am, we know that one payment is in dispute. We don’t know the status of any others. That the bank waited seven years to move on this, and the fact that they didn’t evict Dorn themselves, makes me wonder about the quality of their case.

    To paraphrase your comment, without evidence of his payment history you have no basis on which to claim that he had no right to be there.

  7. I’m also curious about the inability to refinance. There are a lot of mortgage brokers out there. Nobody is forced to refinance with the same bank. I found a good place online for my second refi. What has stopped Gliddys Dewit from being able to refi with a different broker?

  8. I really don’t know this particular person’s situation. If there was in fact malfeasance by the bank he might be able to join or file a class action lawsuit for damages. Most of the big banks have settled suits worth billions filed by the states attorneys general and Department of Justice, as well as individual investors who were defrauded. I doubt any individual lawyer would do the incredible amount of work for this one guy alone, which is why class action lawsuits are usually the best bet.
    You would need to find out who is the legal owner and who has paid property taxes all these years. It appears that Mr. He is the legal owner and has the right to take possession of the property.
    However, the situation might have been settled in a more humane and dignified manner. Mr. He could have said something like “I would make a buyout offer or give some assistance with relocation if you agree to leave peacefully by a certain date”. He chose to say “Get the f-ck out of here you worthless n-ggers before I throw you out on your asses by force” He doesn’t sound like the best type of neighbor does he?

  9. If the bank is basing its sale on a payment missed seven years ago, why is it only acting now, and why didn’t it evict the Dorn family itself before selling the property? One guess would be that this is a troubled situation for the bank and wanted to shuffle its problem off on someone else. Someone with Mr. He’s track record would be a perfect candidate.

  10. “good long term urban planning with some coordination between business and community leaders and politicians and developers.”

    Gee. you mean like actually building enough units to accommodate natural growth, or even just anticipating the demand based on the number of new jobs created here? What a concept!

  11. Good ol’ Spam. Always first in line to cheer on evictions. He awards extra points if they’re long-term community icons of color.

  12. Yeah or buy a cheaper house and pay for it in full . Don’t buy a house with other people living in it. It’s like the old saying when you buy a used car you are buying someone else’s problem. When you buy a house with other people living in it who don’t want to leave you are buying a problem. Some laws are upheld, others are not. It depends on a lot of other factors.

    It would not require higher taxes if the city officials planned in advance before many big companies move into a small city and bring thousands of highly paid workers with no place to live. Solicit bids from developers to who build luxury housing before the businesses move in. That doesn’t have anything to do with socialism or higher taxes . Its just common sense.

    Unless you limit the size of the population you are going to have some poor people in a society that will need places to live. That is true anywhere in the world. In many ways there are similarities to the refugee crisis in Syria.

  13. When you say that “The authorities usually don’t like to drag people out kicking and screaming” that may be true but they are nonetheless legally compelled to do that if a court orders it. If the sheriff refused to carry it out he could be jailed (it happened once, I heard). Likewise the city could be sued if it does not comply with a court order.

    Sure, the city can pass laws that reduce the probability that someone will be evicted. But there are limits to that as we have seen. And ironically someone who owns their home but has defaulted often has less rights than a tenant. Foreclosures are like evictions for non-payment of rent, i.e easy to win if the occupant cannot prove payment.

    Whether the city should provide alternatives is a political question but I have seen no evidence that the voters are happy to pay more taxes so that people like Dorn who default can somehow get away with it.

    The key to housing security is making your payments,

  14. Maybe the courts will uphold the order via a Sheriff eviction if it is lawful, i don’t know. The authorities usually don’t like to drag people out kicking and screaming.

    It seems that much of the heartache and suffering in San Francisco might have been avoided via good long term urban planning with some coordination between business and community leaders and politicians and developers. That way people who are evicted would have somewhere else to go within reasonable commuting distance.

  15. Agree, but doing the real investigative journalism involved in determining the entire financial history would have been hard work. And would run the risk of discovering that Dorn is just trying on a scam here.

    So much easier to simply assert that Dorn is poor and black, and therefore should get to keep his home regardless of the law, the facts and the finances.

  16. I agree. If the writer wants us to understand the nature of an injustice against the Dorn family then we need to understand the details:

    What has their status been since 2008? Have they been paying rent to someone? Have they been putting mortgage payments into some type of trust? Who has been paying the RE taxes? What was the nature of the “missaplication” and what is the paper trail that works against it?

    Re: “Give the family a 180 days to hold the bank accountable and bring in an investor to make you whole again.”

    It’s been 7+ years…if they are able to hold the bank accountable then why haven’t they done so already?

  17. Of course the Sheriff will act.

    It’s ACORN, they do have a record of squatting or forcing some unusual outcomes, but typically families like this one that had to have made multiple mistakes to get to this point, will suffer in the end.

  18. A court has issued an eviction notice and the sheriff is legally compelled to execute it. The sheriff has some flexibility about when to conduct it, but that’s about it

    If the sales contract is somehow illegal then Dorn needs to go to court and get the eviction notice annulled. My guess is that he knows he does not have cause to achieve that.

    He should concede possession and hire a lawyer to get compensation, if he really has made full payment for all this period, which I doubt.

  19. Yeah, no. Here’s monolithic financial entity JP Morgan Chase in talks with Justice in early 2015: http://www.wsj.com/articles/j-p-morgan-in-talks-with-justice-department-over-auto-loan-pricing-1424813158
    Here’s monolithic financial entity Wells Fargo settling in 2012: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-settlement-wells-fargo-resulting-more-175-million-relief This list goes on and on.

    Monolithic financial entities victimize people when it is profitable.

  20. There may be more to this story than we know. Someone would have to do an incredible amount of research to find out what really happened and who has been paying taxes all these years. There are instances in which the bank has had to pay property taxes because they could not find the actual mortgage location.

    But either way Mr He should at least give the people time to find suitable housing. If he doesn’t he is just being an obnoxious jerk

  21. If the contract is invalid because of accounting fraud by the bank the courts will not be able to enforce the contract. That is probably why this is occurring. While not common the situation is not unique and the people could be there a long time .

  22. Agreed. If he went into default in 2008, that means that he has had SEVEN YEARS to get his shit together. That is longer than most get.

    I’ve experienced the misapplication of a payment before. It’s a real thing. I took out a small home equity loan that I repaid fairly quickly and the bank’s system took a powder right around the time I made my final payment. I had a credit card with the same bank, so I think (as it was explained to me, anyway) there was some confusion over what account to which the payment needed to be applied. Instead of contacting me to ask, they did nothing, the funds sat there in some state of suspension and I only noticed a month later. It did take several frustrating phone calls and a torrent of bureaucratic bullshit before it was all sorted out, but you better believe I was on the case DAILY. This is where I do not understand people like Dorn; how do they not get off their asses and ACT. If it’s a misunderstanding or a glitch, fine—but, for fuck’s sake, DO SOMETHING. You don’t get to sit around, not make payments, put your faith in some mystical entity, and then, years later, demand that the blameless buyer of your now-former home give you a break.

  23. I don’t buy for a second that Chase, a monolithic financial entity, is committing acts of “economic terrorism” against the low-income masses. Chase doesn’t give a shit about people, one way or the other, and that’s either a good or bad thing, depending on how financially responsible you are. You either pay the mortgage successfully and follow through on your commitments or you don’t. As for predatory lending practices, I feel sympathy for those adversely affected, but how is it that people don’t read contracts when it comes to large sums or money, especially when years of financial obligation are on the line?

  24. I think the sheriff will act. Mirk might have been more likely to play a card here and stall on the eviction, but now we have a real sheriff the eviction will go ahead. It’s not unusual for the sheriff to pick a time that causes less disruption. If it were me I’d go in hard at 2am

  25. Your comment about “buying a business” might apply to a property with tenants. But Dorn is not a tenant.

    When you buy a home part of the contract grants you vacant possession. The seller is expected to move out by the day the sale closes, and has no legal basis to continue to live there.

    The whiners here appear to think that if the occupant of a house is black and poor, then he has a lifetime right to live there for free.

  26. Are you seriously claiming that Dorn has made all payments on his mortgage and continues to? And that somehow his house was sold without him knowing?

    Without evidence of his complete payment history you have no basis on which to claim that he has any right to be there

  27. As impossible as it seems this may be accurate. Chase has so many mortgage subsidiaries located in so many different places that it is a Kafka-esque labyrinth of dysfunction and chaos. In some cases people have been reported as being in foreclosure when the mortgages are paid in full . One subsidiary can relieve a payment and not be able to locate the other subsidiary which actually has the mortgage.

    I’m not crying any tears for Mr He. If you want to buy a house for immediate occupancy then buy a vacant house. If you buy a house with other people living there you are buying a business. If you don’t want to go into the business of propert management then don’t even get started.

  28. I wish this story added up, but it doesn’t.

    The Bank has owned the house for years now. The family lost the house. They missed their chance to do a short sale. They have missed every opportunity to salvage a crap situation.

    Now they’re blowing the opportunity with the new owner, to buy the property back (much like Marcus Books tried to do), because here we have an ACORN front group blowhard who is making empty threats, telling the owner he has no rights, and a Sherif won’t act on behalf of the law? Disgusting. Most assuredly, this family is getting bad advice.

  29. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about

    Do some research on foreclosures – this happened often sometimes on purpose – something banks have been fined for, but nobody went to jail as people lost their homes

  30. “Misapplication of his payment? What does that mean? Either he paid the mortgage or he did not. If he paid it and somehow the bank “misapplied” it then he should have the returned check as proof of payment. Sounds to me that he just missed some payments, and that will get you foreclosed every time.

    Again, Bear Sterns (sic) did what in January 2015? Bear Stearns went bust about eight years ago. JP Morgan Chase took over their book but chances are it is with some third entity by now.

    There seems to be some major holes in this story. And if Dorn really defaulted in 2008 and is only now being evicted, he has had a very good run for whatever money he did actually pay.

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