In fact, collaboration between OOH and other groups has become so entrenched that many organizers identify as Occupy Our Homes members while maintaining activist roles in other groups. Franzen, for instance, is a member of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker-founded social justice group that he said is helping to "build power" for OOH Atlanta. In recognition of the cross-pollination between many groups, activists recently formed theHome Defenders League, which lists 25 partners, most of them non-OHH groups. But OOH faces an uphill battle in winning the backing of many other housing groups, especially those that receive grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For example, the housing group NeighborWorks America, which funnels aid to hundreds of affiliates around the country, "would be crazy to try and identify and collaborate," Hersey said. A primary role of NeighborWorks, he said, is to "procure funds from the government."
Newby said a number of organizations have committed to working with OOH Minnesota only to pull out at the last minute. "The radical home defense concept of taking 30-plus arrests at one home is really something that these groups have a hard time getting their board to move on," he said. OOH's arguably coercive tactics have drawn criticism from some industry observers. Mark Calabria, director of regulation and financial studies at the Cato Institute, said OOH takes "legitimate protest and moves it towards trespass." He also questioned whether OOH chooses homeowners that are truly deserving of support. "It's not clear to me that Occupy folks are really going through the process of, 'Have they been cheated or not?'" Calabria said. "We have a court system." But other experts like Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said that taking direct action may be the only way to ensure that a lender gives a borrower a fair shake. "Sometimes, desperate times require desperate measure," Rheingold said. "If this is going to get the banks' attention, then I applaud these folks." Regardless, OOH chapters are increasingly gaining support from non-profits that were once leery of its aggressive approach to homeowner advocacy. For example, Newby said, a faith-based group known as ISAIAH -- which he said repeatedly shunned overtures from OOH Minnesota -- recently committed to holding a prayer vigil with OOH to protest the eviction of St. Paul, Minn., resident Dianne E'laine. "They say lenders don't like bad publicity," E'laine said about OOH and ISAIAH, which boasts more than 100 member congregations. Speaking of saving her home, she added: "I'm thinking there's still a way." --Written by Teke Wiggen for AOL Real EstateMore From AOL Real Estate Tenant Installs Surveillance, Now Faces Eviction Vacant Homes Plague Neighbors as Lenders Drag FeetLoan Officer Lifts the Lid on Deceptive Lending in 'The Liar and His Loans'