Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brunch For Housing A Success!

AFSC Atlanta has been proud to be a part of the Occupy Our Homes National movement, and especially excited about the outcomes of Occupy Our Homes ATL's (OOHA)work locally. We've seen homeowners, renters, even Churches stand up to slumlords and big banks and win. These victories are important, and we know they have a real impact on others decision to stand up and fight.

With Georgia's housing crisis reaching historic proportions, we all realize how vital this work is, so it was a no brainier when OOHA asked for some help with their Sunday brunch. AFSC provided food and a cook for the waffle brunch, which took place today and had a few simple goals; to provide space to create dialogue about the housing crisis, give updates on current resident led campaigns, and raise a little funds to sustain OOHA's work.

Everyone who showed up was also asked to sign our online petition to save Steve Boudreaux's home( sign by clicking here), and a delicious time was had by all.

We're all excited about several of OOHA's upcoming resident led campaigns that seek to take home defense work in Atlanta to the next level.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Major Win For Tacco Cullins And Her Children

Just one month ago Tacco Cullins, single mother of 11, faced homelessness after being scammed by a fake landlord.

With no public housing in Atlanta, a moratorium on section 8 housing vouchers, and no organizations able or willing to take on a family of 12 in crisis, Tacco had almost nowhere to turn.

After reaching out to Occupy Our Homes ATL Tacco decided to fight for fair housing for her and her children.

After countless press interviews, hundreds of phone calls, fundraisers, and community meetings enough money was raised to get Tacco in a much larger house that's furnished with everything the family needs.
After much public pressure it also looks like the Atlanta Housing Authority might temporarily end the section 8 freeze in order to grant the Cullen's family an emergency voucher.

This is just a start for Tacco and her children, a new beginning. Now new challenges face the family as they look for jobs, or better jobs in some cases. Tacco is excited about her weekly life skills/jobs skills sessions she started attending two weeks ago, and she has expressed wanting to become an organizer with Occupy Our Homes ATL, maybe writing a book about her experiences as a mother, and one day opening a day care center.

The Cullen's family is hosting a victory party Saturday 8/4 at 2pm at their new home at 2259 Polar Rock Terrace.

American Friends Service Committee has been excited to be a part of the campaign keep this loving family together, and we hope to stay involved over the next three months as the family makes this transition.

This campaign definitely brought a diverse group of individuals and organizers together. So many folks played super key roles in keeping this family off the streets. "Able" Mable Thomas, Atlanta Travelers Aid, Antioch Baptist Church,  Community Ministry Christian Church, Joe Beasley, Derrick Boazman, WOAK, V103, Frank and Wanda, Pittsburgh Resurrection, and countless individuals are all had the communities back, and who knows what kind ripple effect preventing Tacco and 11 children from becoming homeless will have. It's a win for humanity, and we need more of those these days.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Fight To Save Steve's Home!

Today we hosted two phone banks in the Atlanta area with the hope of generating lots of phone calls and emails to Wells Fargo in our effort to help Steve Boudreaux save his home! It went super well, and it was a lot of fun! We made lots of calls, emails, and we shared a delicious meal!

It’s not too late to call! Here’s all the info:

Last year, Marietta, Ga resident Steve Boudreaux lost his job. Like the millions of other Americans battling unemployment, Steve struggled to make his mortgage payments, and eventually fell behind. In an effort to save his home from foreclosure, Steve applied for an emergency loan modification from his lender, Wells Fargo. Everything was set to move forward until the IRS delayed in getting Steve’s tax transcripts to the bank. Rather than wait for the transcripts—the IRS even sent confirmation that they were on their way-- Wells Fargo moved forward with a foreclosure sale. To add insult to injury, the transcripts were delivered to the bank the next day.

Steve is now employed and getting back on his feet, and is willing to do whatever it takes to stay in his home. He contacted Wells Fargo numerous times requesting they rescind the foreclosure, and let him stay in his home. His calls have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Please contact Wells Fargo on Steve’s behalf with this simple message.

"Rescind the foreclosure, and work out a deal to keep Steve Boudreaux (Loan # 00006391834) in his home. Accept his payments instead of leaving another empty house in our communities."

Call AND email:

John G. Stumpf
Chairman & CEO
(415) 396-7018

Michael J. Heid
President, Home Mortgage

Pat Callahan
Chief Administrative Officer

Avid Modjtabai
Senior EVP, Consumer Lending

Hungry For Housing!

This Past weekend Occupy Our Homes ATL, Community Ministry Christian Church, Antioch Baptist Church, and American Friends Service Committee teamed up to organize a community meal to raise money for Tacco Cullins and awareness of the housing crisis Atlanta is under the lash of.

The dinner was a big success and a lot of fun. Speakers, which included Tacco Cullins and Chris Frazer, were powerful and the food was delicious!

Events like this are important, not only because they raise money, because they build community. We need communities to take on this historic housing crisis facing the city, and if those communities don't exist then it's up to us to help build them.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Big Day For Tacco Cullins Family!!

Tacco Cullins was renting a rundown home for $600 per month when she got into a dispute with the “landlords” over repairs that needed to be done to the house.

There were holes in the walls and floors and broken windows that the landlords promised to fix. When they didn’t perform the repairs Ms. Cullins withheld her rent. Her “landlords” eventually attempted to evict her and her 11 children assuming that Tacco wouldn’t have the resources for a lawyer. She did, and while at court it became clear that the men who leased her the property where not in fact the owners at all.

Tacco Cullins and her children ranging in age from 19 to 2 had to move immediately and are now staying in a hotel, thanks to Atlanta Travelers Aid. The Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS) has threatened to take the children from Ms. Cullins unless they have someplace stable to live.

Yesterday Tacco and the whole family had the chance to tell their story over and over again, from 7am-9pm. We started with almost two hours of live air time on V103 with Frank and Wanda.During the V103 interview a CBS channel 46 was in the studio filming. It was quite an experience to be in the studio with the whole family and a film crew.

After Frank and Wanda’s show we went down the hall for an interview with WOAK’s Lorraine Jacques White for a 20 minute interview. Lorriane, Frank, and Wanda all encouraged their audiences to give big online.

During our interview with Lorraine we got a call from Fox 5 who asked if they could come out and do a story in Tacco’s neighborhood, which fit right into our day. Last Monday we bagan working with Pittsburgh Resurrection to develop a series of life skills sessions for the whole family, so we were in the area any way. Click here to see the Fox 5 story.

Our last interview of the day was with WOAK’s Derek Boazman. Derek devoted his whole three hour show to talking about Tacco and challenging his listeners to step up and donate.
After we left WOAK we rushed back to the hotel Tacco and her kids are staying in and to meet with SCAP organizers about developing a short film concept to be shot and edited by the Cullins children.
What a day!
We are now taking stock of all the donations and pledges that were made yesterday. We aren’t sure just how much was raised yet, but we do know that the Cullins family should be able to move into a new home this week!

Is this a model for helping all people in struggle for housing? NO. We clearly will not be able to build these types of press junkets for everyone, but Atlanta literally has no safety net for a family of this size in crisis. Our commitment to work side by side with Tacco isn’t just humanitarian, it’s political as well. How can a city due away with public housing, freeze all section 8, attempt to close down and defund homeless shelters and homeless services, yet make sure there are resources to forcibly split up a loving family and funnel them into a seriously broken, sometimes abusive system?

Tacco’s struggle has highlighted the crisis of economic priority that existed long before folks were Occupying Wall Street. It has also unearthed racial prejudice in many who have viewed and commented on the story.
In America, large white families are often celebrated. We see them on reality tv, iconic sitcoms, and in the movie theaters. Some folks are less comfortable seeing non-white large families, especially in low income communities.

Yesterday was a great day for the Cullins family, but the real challenge is tomorrow. Overcoming generations of poverty has proved difficult for most, but Tacco and her family seem up for the challenge. It’s been exciting to see peers of Tacco, who have broken the chain of poverty themselves, come out of the woodwork and offer their time and friendship to Tacco.

At this point Tacco aspires to write a book on her experiences, help organize with Occupy Our Homes ATL, and develop a childcare business. We’re all excited to be a small part of that path!

Tim Franzen

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Georgia Prison Hunger Strike Continues

The following is a letter written by Delma Jackson, spouse of one of the hunger strikers, and Pastor Kenneth Glasgow. The letter addresses claims made by the department of corrections that the hunger strike is over.

Hello Everyone,

I am sure some of you may heard the Georgia Department of Corrections claims that the strike is over.  Please do not believe those lies the strike is still in full force. Our attorney met with Miguel Jackson (one of the hunger strikers) and he advised Mr. Williams that the strike is in force and has never ended.  They did lose one striker who began eating food however there are people still joining the strike.  With that being said it has been 35 days since these men have eaten.  We must move swiftly or people are going to start dying. 

 We are holding a Solidarity Rally   Monday, July 16, 2012 and this time we are going straight to the source The Georgia Department of Corrections.  We will be demanding a meeting and we will not leave until Commissioner Brian Owens agrees to meet with us. We need your support and prayers for these courageous men.  Please distribute the flyer feel free to post it on social media, blogs, and etc. it is imperative that we build awareness and gain all the support we can. If you have any additional questions our contact is below:

Delma Jackson / Prodigal Child Project Atlanta
(Mobile) 912-322-0668

Pastor Kenneth Glasgow /TOPS
(mobile) 334-791-2433

We're are also having an INTERNATIONAL call in day to support Georgia Hunger Strikers THIS MONDAY July 16, 2012!!!

NUMBER TO CALL!  (Please encourage everyone to call while we are outside demonstrating) 10:00 am -1:00pm EST
Brian Owens, Commissioner, GA Department of Corrections, ask for his administrative assistant Peggy Chapman 478-992-5258

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Fight To Save Steve's Home Continues

The past week three flash demonstrations were carried out in an effort to keep the pressure on Wells Fargo to make a deal to keep Cobb County resident Steve Boudreaux in his home. So far, despite Steve’s willingness to negotiate a very reasonable deal with Wells Fargo, the bank has been unwilling to budge. It seems they would rather see another crime attracting, neighborhood devaluing, boarded up home is his community.

After battling unemployment and struggling to make payments on his mortgage, Boudreaux applied for an emergency home loan modification to stay in his home at a rate he could afford.

Boudreaux said everything was all set to move forward until the IRS delayed in getting tax transcripts to his bank.

Wells Fargo pushed forward with a foreclosure sale, according to Boudreaux. The transcripts were delivered the day after the foreclosure sale.

It’s time the banks stop holding our communities and make an effort to work with home owners to keep them in their home in these historic difficult times.

Next Tuesday Occupy Our Homes ATL and the Cobb Coalition For Change will be hosting a national call in day to Wells Fargo in an effort to pressure the bank to make a deal.

Tim Franzen
American Friend Service Committee

Coming Together For Family On The Verge Of Homelessness

The last week we've been frantically working with Tacco Cullens, single mother of 11. As of Saturday June 30th Tacco and her children were forced to leave the substandard home they had rented buy a scam artist that did not in fact own the home. Why was the home substandard? Because the fake landlord refused to fix the house.

Since the 30th there have been two tasks that the family and others have been trying to accomplish. While we all have been organizing a patchwork of suitable places for the family to stay, we've also been trying to find a long term solution to their housing.

One two separate occasions in the last week the family was literally on the verge of having nowhere to sleep. If it weren't for "Able" Mable Thomas and Atlanta Travelers Aid Tacco and her family could have already ended up on the street.

Progress has been made. In the last week more and more people are coming out of the woodwork to offer help. We've had several leads on a house, though none have panned out yet.

Today we launched a weekly lunch and learn at Pittsburgh Resurrection designed to provide space for the family to learn alternative career paths, budgeting, how to organize their community, how to identify root causes of the problems in their lives, and urban gardening. The lunch and learns are also an opportunity to enjoy a good cooked meal, and for the younger children to engage in fun educational activities.

After today's lunch and learn we took the whole family to Antioch Baptist Church for a meeting with Rainbow PUSH southeastern president Joe Beasley. Mr. Beasley not only took the time to meet with each of the children and make sure they went home with boxes of food, we also spent about an hour putting pressure on the Atlanta Housing Authority to help this family through their crisis.

What are we looking for and how can you help?

The family is looking for a 4-6 bedroom house that's cheap and available for rent. They would of course would need the owner to understand and be cool with the fact that this family is very big. They would prefer something that isn't to far from the Pittsburgh(as in South ATL) . We are also open to helping them buy a cheap abandoned home and help them fix it up, but that would need to happen really soon and time is running out. Atlanta Travelers Aid is currently paying for the family to have a few efficiency rooms downtown, but their last day there is July 18th, so that's the deadline we're working with.

 There will be a benefit dinner this Saturday in the Pittsburgh Community at 6:30pm. The cost is $5 to $20 for a three course meal, people are encouraged to pay what you can. Below is a link to the event.
Facebook event

You can also give directly and safely here:
Donate To Tacco Cullins

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In A Georgia Prison, Starving For Change

My husband Miguel and nine other inmates declared a hunger Strike on Sunday, June 10, 2012 and they are now entering their 29th day.  Miguel, has been seeking medical treatment for the injuries he sustained due to being beaten with hammers by prison officials. He has been suffering for over 18 months and hasn't had the proper medical treatment. Miguel and other inmates at Georgia Diagnostics have been denied  access to proper hygiene, medical treatment for their numerous and severe injuries, many of which were inflicted 18 months ago, status reviews every 30 days as stated in the SOP, restoration of their visiting and communications rights, and access to their meager personal property. They have filed numerous grievances and their requests have been ignored.

1. They are asking that the Georgia Department of Corrections follow its own published procedures requiring a status review of every inmate in punitive isolation every 30 days.
 2. They further insist that such evaluations be public and transparent so as to preclude the possibility of prejudicial conduct on the party of prison officials.
3, These men are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights.  After 18 months of being in constant pain and being ignored these men felt they had been left with no other alternative but go on a hunger strike. 
4.  They are demanding access to proper hygiene, medical treatment, the restoration of their visiting and communications rights, and access to their meager personal property.
 5. They are asking that the Georgia Department of Corrections follow its own published procedures requiring a status review of every inmate in punitive isolation every 30 days. These men are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights. 
6. The right to have one hour per day for outside exercise

Georgia is the most locked up state in the country, per ca pita. This is ground zero for injustice in the prison industrial complex considering the the US makes up 5% of the worlds population and 25% of it's prisoners. 

These men are more than inmates they are human beings.  They are someone's son, husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather. Imagine if it were your loved one that was being treated worst than an animal. Please show your humanity and sign the petition.

Make the calls:

Warden, GA Diagnostic & Classification Prison, Butts County GA
GA Department of Corrections Ombudsman
478-992-5367 or 478-992-5358
No fax, but you can email them Please add a cc to the email,
Brian Owens, Commissioner, GA Department of Corrections, ask for his administrative assistant Peggy Chapman

Georgia governor Nathan Deal
Fax the governor at 404-657-7332

Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia 
  • Call: 404-656-1776


Delma Jackson
Guest writer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cooling Off With SCAP!

Student Career Alternatives Program hosted an event this past weekend. Originally it was going to be a block party for youth in the Pittsburgh community just south of downtown, but we had to change the location due to extreme heat.

Luckily, not far from our original location is DA Stanton park, which features fun sprinklers and water cannons(perhaps the only cannons SCAP can get behind).

Despite the last minute venue change, we still had a very good turnout. Young people got an opportunity to chill out in the water, enjoy a nutritious meal, and get to know each others. Topics of conversation included how to get a summer job, GED preparation, and conflict resolution.

Our next SCAP event will be held in late July at Wonderroot Community Art Center, where youth will learn how to shoot and edit their own short films.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

The People VS Wells Fargo

Homeowner Steve Boudreaux, who we've been working with alongside Occupy Our Homes ATL and the Cobb Coalition for Change, hosted a press conference outside his home at 3 pm to declare that he is fighting to keep his home off Rubes Landing in Marietta.

We plan to support Steve and stand along side of him as he refuses to leave the property until Wells Fargo makes a deal that keeps him in his home.

After battling unemployment and struggling to make payments on his mortgage, Boudreaux applied for an emergency home loan modification to stay in his home at a rate he could afford.

Boudreaux said everything was all set to move forward until the IRS delayed in getting tax transcripts to his bank.

Wells Fargo pushed forward with a foreclosure sale, according to Boudreaux. The transcripts were delivered the day after the foreclosure sale.

A demonstration was held Friday outside of the Wells Fargo branch where Boudreaux took out his loan.

On Monday, tents were be pitched and supporters began a 24/7 vigil until Wells Fargo makes a deal to keep Boudreaux in is home.

"Georgia is now the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. We have to do something about this, and we have to do it now," says Occupy Homes organizer Allie McCullen.

Single Mother of 11, Ripped Off, Now Faces Homelessness

Occupy Our Homes ATL, the Pittsburgh Community, and American Friends Service Committee call on our city to find a solution that keeps Tacco Cullin’s loving family together. We believe that Atlanta and its residents can make this happen.

Tacco Collins reached out last week in a desperate situation. She was living in a substandard three-bedroom house with no electricity and had just run out of food to feed her family.

Tacco signed a rental agreement with her landlord in February of 2011. Before she moved in the landlord made a promise to fix the flooring, replace the water heater, fix the shower, and paint the interior, none of which ever happened.

 In July of 2011 her electrical box exploded and the landlord refused to fix it, leaving her with no power. She decided to withhold rent until it was fixed, and instead of fixing it the landlord tried to evict her. After Tacco took her landlord to court she discovered that he didn’t actually own the house at all, it belonged to an investor in White Plains, New York.

What we have now is a short period of time to find permanent housing for the family or they face homelessness, and there are serious challenges.

Atlanta is the only major city in the US with no public housing, we have a moratorium on section 8 vouchers, and it seems that no shelter can take a family of Tacco’s size. Atlanta’s only solution seems to be to funnel the family into yet another underfunded inadequate system. To add insult to injury there are literally hundreds of large boarded up homes in Tacco’s community that have been sitting unused for years.

One thing that’s clear to anyone who spends time with this family is that they love and need each other. The unique bond between the children and their mother is tender and truly moving. This family needs to remain together. What they lack in capital, they certainly more than make up in devotion to each other.

We are asking all that can to contribute to helping Tacco and her 11 children a stable place to live.
Link to Wepay:

At AFSC we believe that housing is a human right. The United States is the richest country in the world, we spent billions to fund a global war on terror,yet we don't have the safely net to catch struggling families in crisis in our own backyard. Tacco is a full time mother who can't take on work, we call on the community to step up and help us find a sustainable solution.

Tim Franzen