Mark Seifert began his community organizing career in 1987 when he staffed the Homelesss Committee of Low Income People Together (LIPT). In 1991, he became the Lead Organizer at the Union-Miles Development Corporation where he organized residents to get much needed reforms of the FHA housing disposition process. In 1993, he was the co-founding staff of the East Side Organizing Project and became its Executive Director in 1999.
Under Seifert’s direction, ESOP has become nationally recognized for its work on predatory lending and foreclosure prevention. ESOP’s model combines direct action organizing to force lenders to the table to negotiate written agreements. The agreements include a specific point person from the lender’s side that has the authority to make decisions about modifying terms of the loan. Today, ESOP has formal agreements with more than a dozen lenders and good working relationships with ten others. Since 2003, ESOP’s work has saved more than 5000 families from foreclosure and has returned more than $9 million in fees and saved interest to those homeowners.
Over the last year, ESOP’s foreclosure prevention work received no fewer than three dozen national and international media hits. In 2007 ESOP was awarded the “Special Church in the City Award” by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese and has been cited by Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray as the most efficient foreclosure prevention model in the state of Ohio.
Beginning in April, 2008, ESOP began an expansion across the state of Ohio; going from five staff in one office to 61 staff in ten offices. In 2008, ESOP assisted about 3000 families avoid foreclosure and is on pace to assist about 8000 families n 2009.
Mark has a B.A. in Urban Planning and received his J.D. in 1998.