We meet every Thursday following that, 6 p.m. at Old St. John's Church, located at 2120 Russell, next to Eastern Market, Detroit. It's just off I-75, and has ample parking -- enter from the parking lot side door. See map.
To discuss a possible foreclosure/eviction for the first time, please come at 5:45.
Judge will rule on Lela Whitfield's fight vs. eviction Thurs. Aug.28
11 am at 36th District Courtroom of Judge Garrett, 4th floor. 421 Madison St, Detroit.
New! See map & parking.
When the federal agency Fannie Mae showed up in court June 6 trying to evict Lela Whitfield without the proper documents, Judge Ruth Ann Garrett sent its lawyer packing, saying that powerful institutions are not privileged to bypass the law.
The Judge noted the activists who were supporting Whitfield. Then on July 18 about two dozen supporters packed the court, and Judge Garrett said she needs more time to study the case. At the trial on Aug. 13, the judge told Lela & supporters she'd issue a decision on Aug. 28.
Lela has lived in her Detroit home since she was a child. The home belonged to her mother, who took out a reverse mortgage in 2005. Now Lela faces eviction by Fannie Mae, the government-owned agency that turns a deaf ear to her offers to buy her home.
Picket Bank of America:
Don't evict Acheampong family!
Friday, August 29
Noon, Downtown Detroit Guardian Building
500 Griswold St.
The family is threatened with eviction even after being promised a modified mortgage and making all the payments the bank demanded. Find out more.
We got the Bank's attention when we picketed a branch on Aug. 2 & now let's increase the pressure!
Detroit Freedom Friday - week 15
Fri., Aug. 22, 4 pm
Meet at Water & Sewage Dept. office, 735 Randolph, Detroit
March through the financial district to Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 4:45 pm
Water shutoffs have affected tens of thousands throughout Detroit in preparation to selling off the water department to private investors. This will end in higher water rates for everybody.
New Bankruptcy trial date
Protesters will rally outside Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday, Sept. 2,
8:30 am, at 231 W. Lafayette St., Detroit. This is the date of the final trial over Detroit’s bankruptcy. The court will make a final decision on the “plan of adjustment” where the biggest banks could get paid off while retirees will have pensions cut 25% to 50%.
22 people came out to support Gratiot-McDougall families
at Circuit Ct. hearing, July 25
People stood up in the courtroom to support the families in their fight to stop Peter Barclae’s arrogant breach of contract (see story to the right), and his attempts to evict them and sell the homes to international investors. We are fighting the blight that will surely follow if they are evicted.
The judge confirmed that money homeowners are putting into an escrow account can go directly to pay tax and home insurance and can be credited to any future purchase. She refused to let Barclae take the money.
More than a thousand rallied to "Turn on the Water!" July 18
Officials announce temporary halt to shut-offs; families need
The national NetRoots Convention at Cobo Hall helped pack the crowd as over a thousant people marched through downtown Detroit fri., July 18 to demand no to water shutoffs.
Registered Nurses declared a public health emergency & demanded the
moratorium on the dangerous water shutoffs in Detroit.
Protesters also targeted foreclosures, Wall Street speculators, the Emergency Manager takeover & other corporate & bank actions hurting Detroiters.
|The Ferndale Housing Commission panicked & called the police on June 18 when two dozen people peacefully protested its treatment of Charmonique Hopkins.|
MORE INFO BITS:
The Armstrongs continue to protest misapplication of their tax payments.
The family has moved, but has not stopped fighting the unfair process that forced them from their home. The case is in the appeals stage.
The company that took advantage of an error in how their tax paymnts were applied has put their former home up for rent.
for Jerome Jackson
To help pay funeral costs & carry on the fight vs evictions that he fought to the end.
Send check made out to Metro Detroit AFL-CIO earmarked for Detroit Eviction Defense Jerome Fund to Miriam Pickens, 17601 George Washington, Southfield MI 48075.
Abused renters turn to Eviction Defense for organizing help
As downtown apartments become hot commodities, many landlords are going for the money and throwing out long-time tenants or harassing them into leaving.
If this is happening to you, come to our next Thursday meeting for support and advice.
|After we visited the luxury home of a mortgage scammer who cheated the Hernandez family, he moved out & was arrested. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison.|
Eviction case dismissed!
|In her fight to save her home, Tsehaya Smith (r.) created this beautiful banner that Jerry Cullors helps hold up.|
Tsehaya Smith expects to buy back home she saved from blight
In court on August 7, Fannie Mae agreed to dismiss the eviction case against Ms. Smith. The federally-controlled mortgage company agreed not to evict while they hammer out a deal to sell her back her home.
Ms. Smith and her lawyer are bargaining hard for a reasonable selling price, and she's applied for a loan from United Community Housing Coalition. Since the long court process prevented Tsehaya from travelling to work, this talented woman might be organizing an arts fundraiser with us to help her seal the deal – look for news about it!
Smith was threatened with eviction from her family home of 50 years just as the December holidays approached. With Eviction Defense help, she organized tirelessly and gradually won a fair chance to present her case. She had already paid Fannie Mae thousands of dollars, and put thousands more into repairing the home – in a neighborhood that desperately needs occupied homes. The fight caused her enormous stress and lost income, but thanks to our solidarity and Tsehaya's strong stance, Fanny Mae's terms came down to earth. Stay tuned for more!
|25 people marched to Bank of America branch on August 2 to support the Acheampong family.|
Help Andrews Acheampong
save his family's home!
Mr. Andrews Acheampong, his wife and two children are threatened with eviction from his home of 25 years after Bank of America led him to believe he was on track to get a loan modification -- and after he made the required payments.
When Andrews had started getting fewer and fewer hours of work at his job as a truck driver, even as the mortgage payments kept going up, he reached out to Bank of America for a loan modification and in 2009 got a trial modification that cut his monthly payments from $1,261 to $997. The Bank promised that if he made three payments he'd get a permanent loan modification.
But after Andrews made 5 payments, Bank of America refused to accept any more and he's now threatened with eviction.
Please join us at a picket at the downtown Guardian Building Picket on noon, Fri. August 29th to pressure the bank to stop this outrageous eviction ploy.
Fall auctions loom...
Tax foreclosures of owner-occupied homes threaten families, neighbors
Don’t let this happen to you – and yours
|Lawyer Bob Day speaks to 25 people worried about foreclosure at our free legal & organizing clinic March 15.|
Wayne County is preparing fall auctions of 20,000 properties that are behind on their taxes. Many are owner-occupied, and the last thing we need is more families evicted from their homes in Detroit and Wayne County. We see the wreckage of past foreclosures all around us.
In early August the County Treasurer's office notified homeowners that they must pay all taxes due prior to 2012. They are still willing to take less than the full amount owed if you live in the home and a community partner like United Community Housing Coalition is helping you.
Get help now!
We urge anyone in Wayne County who is behind on taxes due in 2012 or earlier – or whose home is owned by an investor who owes those taxes – to go down to United Community Housing Coalition's office at 22 Bagley, Suite 224, Detroit (see map) ASAP. Their phones are overwhelmed with calls for help, but if you show up between 9 a.m. and noon, any Monday, Wednesday or Friday, you will get the best help available.
If you are pretty sure you qualify for help but need a ride, call (313) 429-5009 and ask for Eviction Defense.
Step Forward stepped back
Although Step Forward Michigan, controlled by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), got $498 million in federal money to help families avoid both tax and mortgage foreclosures, they are denying applications for assistance by the thousands (only approve only 30% are approved!), and have made themselves hard to readh. Just 22% of the millions earmarked for distressed homeowners had been spent by the last months of 2013.
The clock is ticking - but often something can be worked out
Many homes now at risk have been over-assessed for years at amounts way above their actual values. Many are owned by families who are suffering illnesses, job loss and other temporary hardships. If they get thrown on the street they could have nowhere to go and whole neighborhoods will suffer, as homes are trashed by vandals and/or bought up by speculators.
Some families, including those victimized by the defunct Paramount company’s scam, might have their homes seized because the former owners/sellers of the homes failed to pay the back taxes owed or made other errors before the families moved in.
Protests hit developer
trying to rob homes
from Gratiot-McDougall families
Group gets Midas company to stop selling homes they don't own;
Detroit rally targets deceptive Oakland County developer
On June 24, Atoinette Talley and her neighbors got one step closer to saving their homes in the Gratiot McDougall development on Detroit’s east side.
Peter Barclae, the Oakland County developer who pledged to sell them their homes when they moved in, not only refuses to make good on that contract, but is also trying to evict them. When we found out he convinced a Singapore-based company, Midas, to start selling their homes, 40-plus people braved the pouring rain to protest at Midas' office in Pontiac.
Channel 2 & other media showed up as a group gave Midas evidence of Barclae's illegal bait-and-switch. Within hours, Midas had removed all the homes from its listings.
|The Detroit News did a great story & video on our July 11 rally at Barclae parking lot.|
Barclae still claims the $40,000 - $70,000 he's collected from these homebuyers was only "rent" and they are “tenants.” The homeowners sued to stop this arrogant breach of contract, enforce their right to buy the homes, and save their neighborhood from the blight that will follow if they are evicted.
Supporters joined them at a June 20 hearing. The Judge was so surprised by Barclae's marketing of homes in dispute that she delayed the company's demand for escrow.
Then on July 29, we went to City Council to call for a city investigation of the Barclae's fraudulent actions and a resolution telling him to sell the homes to the families that have already paid him more than $45,000 each.
|See Charmonique's story - she waited for an inspector who never came, & now the strong life she's built from tragedy is endangered.|
Justice for Charmonique Hopkins
Detroiter Charmonique Hopkins was suddenly denied the rental voucher she and her four children need to stay in the home they've lived in for seven years. Why? In April the Ferndale Housing Commission, which administers the federal HUD housing voucher program, never showed up at her well-tended home for a routine inspection. Instead she was told she failed the inspection because an apartment building on the next block is boarded up. Come again?
That test smells like discrimination against Detroiters, who often serve as bulwarks against blight, in a city that so many others have abandoned. Find out more.
If that sounds wrong to you, call the Ferndale Housing Commission at 248-547-9500 and call HUD's Detroit office at 313-226-7900.
See strong letter from Hopkins' attorney Bob Day for inspiration & the full story.
|Now: 2014 Before foreclosure: 2009
Typical Fannie Mae wreakage: it foreclosed on this home after refusing to modify a $34,000 mortgage. Then it sold the house to an investor for $2,400. Unpaid property taxes: $6,800
New head of Fannie Mae takes cautious steps toward change
But Detroit "Stabilization Initiative"
doesn't stop foreclosures
Mel Watt, the new director President Obama put in charge of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage giants, has been meeting with some of the groups that urge for new policies to let people save their homes. Fannie and Freddie's refusal to modify mortgages had driven thousands of Detroit families from their homes; Mel Watt suspended eviction actions against the Hernandez and other families as negotiations continued.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are finally taking the first steps in the Detroit “Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative” (NSI) that Watt announced in May. The first stage makes a small concession to our campaign to "Save Detroit—Save Our Homes” with a limited program of buybacks for homeowners who have gone through mortgage foreclosure.
So far, however, it's a very low-profile and limited roll out of a program that doesn’t stop foreclosures and doesn’t yet call for mortgage modifications that will keep people in their homes by cutting mortgage principals. For now, the NSI is limited to buybacks of foreclosed homes.
After the UAW presented our call to “Save Detroit— Save Our Homes,” and groups like the NAACP and Home Defenders League also called for basic change, Watt had agreed that Detroit needs urgent attention. We & allied groups are stressing the urgent need for principal reduction on “underwater” mortgages that are inflated beyond the homes' real values. We want foreclosures and evictions suspended while homeowners seek modifications or home buybacks.
|On July 11 & 18, clergy & other protesters were arrested as they sat down to keep trucks from shutting off more families.|
Water shut-offs still
endanger too many Detroit families
Thousands of Detroit families have been hit with dangerous, illegal water shutoffs demanded by the Emergency Manager and his financial allies. He used public tax money to hire a private company to do the dirty work, moving one step closer to turning over the public's water department to private interests. In some cases children were taken from families who lost their water service.
Detroiters held Friday protests and blocked departing water shut-off trucks for hours, set up a water station and canvassed neighborhoods. When victims testified before bankruptcy judge Rhodes, he called the city to task. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the shut-offs.
Shut-offs temporarily halted, EM passes mess he made to Mayor
Then more than a thousand people protested through the downtown on July 18 - joined by over Netroots conference-goers from around the nation (See details to the left). Finally an international outcry convinced the city to halt new shut-offs for 15 days and to finally start collecting the millions in unpaid water bills owed by golf courses, Ford Field, the Illich family and other powerful scofflaws.
The unelected Emergency Manager then turned over the City's water bill collection to the elected mayor. Mayor Duggan extended the shut-off moratorium to Aug. 25, promised to give families notice before shutting off the water, and added staff to deal with potential shut-off victims. He announced the 10-30-50 plan that could help some families avoid shut-offs over water bills they can't pay.
This hasn't satisfied protest organizers, who demand that water be turned back on for all households hit with shut-offs. Protesters believe that water is a human right that should not be denied to anyone who can't afford it.
The Detroit People's Water Board backs the original 2005 Water Affordability Program developed by a municipal utility expert and approved by the Detroit City Council in 2005 (but gutted by a city official who was then indicted).
Letter from ACLU and NAACP insisting that people should not be charged more than 2.5% of their annual income for water and sewer services, and that the vulnerable should be guaranteed access to enough water for their very basic needs.
If the EM instead recovered the $500 million in fraudulent interest-rate swaps the banks engineered, the city would have plenty of money to make needed water main repairs and improvements without stripping families of a basic human need.
Help Gail Herhold & her toddler keep their home
Fannie Mae and Green Tree Servicing are trying to throw Gail Herhold and her three-year old son Izaya out of the home she's lived in for 15 years. Gail is willing and able to pay what she owes on the mortgage, but because she was late with three payments in 2012, Green Tree has been relentlessly trying to evict her and little Izaya ever since.
Green Tree had refused to accept her third late payment and suddenly, in January, 2013, Gail found out her house was being sold at a sheriff’s sale. She wants to pay what's needed to save her home, but Green Tree and Fannie Mae, which now owns the mortgage, refuse to work with Gail. After years of trying to cope on her own, she needs support
Hernandez family fights off eviction
First eviction order expired, new eviction order delayed, talks underway
|In a video by Excellent Schools Detroit, the Hernandez sisters talked about what their home means to them and how the threat of eviction weighs on them. See video.
|In September & again in November, crowds of 50+ rallied in support of the family.
The Hernandez family – Ludim and Gabriela and their three daughters Kriscia, Yelinne, and Litzy – are determined to stay in the Southwest Detroit home where they've lived for over a decade.
Last fall an outpouring of people rallied for the family, to stop the unfair eviction ordered for September. We marched, organized in the neighborhood (including a Halloween party), and camped out in a non-stop vigil at the home until the eviction order expired two months later.
Hit with job layoffs in 2012, the family had fallen behind on their mortgage payments, and their home was foreclosed on and sold at sheriff sale to the giant mortgage company now run by the federal government, Fannie Mae.
All-day vigils helped stave off eviction
We are urging Fannie Mae to accept a reasonable offer to help the family regain their home. Fannie Mae had asked for a Feb. 20 court hearing to get a new eviction order, but as we got ready to contest it, Fannie Mae's new director agreed to talk.
Mortgage impostor stole their savings
When they tried to buy back their home during the foreclosure process, the family got fleeced out of their life savings of $15,000 by Kenneth Sandoval, a wealthy Northville man who presented himself as a mortgage representative. But after we twice visited his home, alerted neighbors, and complained to the Attorney General, Sandoval had to leave his luxury home and was imprisoned.
Still no settlement - keep up the pressure!
Talks haven't produced a settlement yet, and we remain vigilant. Meanwhile, we thank Eviction Defense supporters, the UAW, other unionists and neighbors, for helping the family get its first break. And we appreciate the Hernandez family's refusal to bend to injustice.
Join city-wide campaign:
Save Detroit—Save Our Homes!
80 groups join in call to end destructive federal bank policy
Homeowners visited the offices of Senator Stabenow & Congressmen Conyers and Peters as part of a nationwide push for changes in policy.
A city-wide campaign is brewing to stop the surge of foreclosures and evictions that devastate communities. A coalition of neighborhood associations, unions, churches and social justice groups is aiming to reverse the Federal policies at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that drive thousands of Detroit families from their homes. List of endorsers.
Download the flyer that describes the campaign and urge your union, church or group to join the list of endorsers. President Obama’s appointment of a new director for Fannie/Freddie has opened the door to a dialogue with the coalition on saving homes and revamping policy.
Federal government must act to:
1) Stop Foreclosures and Evictions from Owner-Occupied Homes;
2) Reduce Mortgage Principal on Underwater Homes; and
3) Sell Repossessed Homes to Owner Occupants at Market Value.
A Hurricane Without Water
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac feed the foreclosure crisis
These two federal agencies are now responsible for more than 70% of the foreclosures and evictions in this country!Easy-to-read new report demystifies the complex world of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and shows how they wreck havoc on our homes and our neighborhoods.
Features pictures, charts and plain language, and shows how we can work together to fight their destructive practices.
Download the report here . (It's 5.2M, so give it time!)
What to do about tax foreclosure
If you or someone you know is in danger of tax foreclosure, please act now.
- Come to an organizing meeting – Across the country people have been saving their homes by working together. If You are willing to fight back and stand together with others, join us! We meet every Thursday – see details in left column. Come at least 15 minutes early to discuss your foreclosure problem.
- Help us organize to stop all tax foreclosures of owner-occupied homes.
- If you missed our free tax clinic, visit United Community Housing Coalition at 22 Bagley, Suite 224, Detroit 48226, even if you can't reach them by phone (313-963-3310). Web site.
To save our homes and communities:
1). Moratorium on tax evictions and foreclosures of owner-occupied homes; immediately cut property tax assessments to reflect “fair” market value; Not only should assessments be eased going forward, but tax assessments should be cut retroactively and across the board for homeowners!
2). Stop “reversion” (rapid seizure without the normal process) of owner-occupants homes, due to failure to pay property taxes the year they bought the home;
3). Streamline and ease restrictions on Step Forward Michigan, to get the money to distressed homeowners! Don't spend money that was supposed to help homeowners to instead demolish properties owned and neglected by banks, mortgage companies, or Fannie Mae; these entities should pay!
4). Expand door to door efforts to inform people who live in foreclosed properties of all possible programs to aid in tax and mortgage delinquency;
5). Take legal action to make banks, mortgage companies and Fannie Mae stop dumping properties on the cities and county -- and to recover the taxes and other costs they refused to pay!
47 Paramount homeowners get
deeds to their homes!
Mass eviction halted after we pressured court & Pension Board
|Homeowners & backers filled courtroom.|
Victims of fraud still need relief from taxes Paramount didn't pay.
A courageous and warm man who fought to the death
for dignity & against unjust eviction
|Jackson (center) rallying vs. eviction of Hernandez family|
Jerome Jackson was a hero in the fight against unjust evictions – not only for himself but for all families defending their homes. He was always there for Detroit Eviction Defense, which he said was "family."
Jerome spent years fighting to keep the house he had made his own. Wayne County and Community Living Services tore up their agreements to support mortgage payments under a program they talked him into in 2004. Then Fannie Mae relentlessly moved to evict. The battle took a terrible toll on Jerome, but even as his health failed, he fended off eviction.
|In Feb. we marched into the office building of Wayne County Executive Ficano insisting that he stop the eviction of Jackson, who then spoke about his dream.|
We will always be inspired by his strength and leadership.
Memorial fund to help pay funeral costs & carry on Jerome's work
Send check made out to Metro Detroit AFL-CIO earmarked for Detroit Eviction Defense Jerome Fund to Miriam Pickens, 17601 George Washington, Southfield MI 48075.
Thanks to all who took up his fight.
See & download Eviction Defense tribute to Jerome Jackson
How even a phone call will make a big difference