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Man holds foreclosed Carson house hostage

February 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A Carson resident is holding a one-man protest. He recently lost his home to foreclosure. Tuesday, he took extreme measures. He says he wants to buy the house back. The man recently lost his job and then found some new work.In the city of Carson, according to the mayor, there are more than 1,100 homes in foreclosure, including the one that belonged to Frank Torres. About 8 a.m. Tuesday, a cleaning crew was removing some of the possessions out of the house. Torres went over, chased the crew away, and took his old house hostage.

Torres wanted to draw attention to the fact that he says he is now financially able to buy back his house. He wrote messages on the roof of the house in large letters.

On one side of the roof it says it's about family, the other: "I want to be heard."

What Frank Torres got Tuesday in Carson was a lot of attention. After holding his foreclosed house hostage for more than five hours, he gave up to sheriff's deputies. He lost the house to foreclosure last month. He said he's been trying to work with the bank to get it back.

"That's all I want is for someone to hear me out," said Torres. "For someone to help us out, work with us, work on a loan, because if not, they're just going to sell the house under the home price, way under the price, and that's not going to help the economy out, that's not going to help us out, that not going to help the banks out. And I just don't see -- that's a three-way loss."

The Torres family said they bought their house in 2002 for $280,000. Last year work was scarce for the oil-refinery worker. But Torres said he's now working full-time and has the down payment to buy his old house back.

"I left work to come and support him," said Luz Torres, Frank's wife. "You know, it's something that everyone is fighting for right now ... to keep their homes and stuff, and it's just hard when the opportunity and the changes that they're making comes kind of late."

When the extended Torres family, who live on the same street, found out what Frank did Tuesday, they came out in support. As one of his brothers said, "What else was he going to do but try to fight to keep his old house?"

"We're Torreses and we belong together, we stick together and we represent," said David Torres, Frank's brother. "Whenever one of us falls, we all fall. But today was something that my brother wanted to make his point across and he did. And he did it without doing a crime. Because all he had as weapons were his paychecks."

"This is a prime example of what cities have to do all over California, all over the nation," said Carson Mayor Jim Dear. "They need to reach out to their population, to the constituencies, and look at creative solutions, because this gentlemen, he works, his wife works. They're bringing in a decent income but yet, this adjustable mortgage that he was stuck with, still couldn't make the payments."

Mayor Dear said he was able to talk to Torres and convince him to give up to deputies, and it all ended peacefully. Torres is not in custody, and he said he's very grateful for that.

Torres will go to city hall Wednesday to meet with the mayor and the city manager to see if anything can be done. No promises are going to be made. But the mayor says he and the city council are trying to work up a mortgage foreclosure task force in Carson to deal with the more than 1,100 foreclosed properties in the city.


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