To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#sanders
|A group went to Ann Arbor on Feb. 3 to urge the investor's management company to sell Ms. Sanders back her home at an affordable price.|
80-year-old Detroit woman loses home to confusion over $600 in tax fees
California investor should return her home for the price he paid at County auction
Mary Sanders (left) is trying desperately to save home of 40 years
Mary Jones-Sanders should have been offered the poverty property tax exemption for the Detroit home she's lived in for 40 years. But instead, she is in danger of being kicked on the street for $600. She managed to pay the back taxes, but didn't realize she also had to pay $600 in penalties.
For that, Wayne County foreclosed on her and sold her home at the tax auction last fall. It was snapped up by California investor Chris Meyer for $2300.
Our elders are being victimized
Ms. Sanders has raised children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in this home, and has been a bedrock of her Detroit community. She should not lose it all for a $600 mistake.
Please help us urge Mr. Meyer and his management company to sell her back her home for what he paid. Click here to find out what you can do. Check also for actions in the left column.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#campbell
|Some 35 people braved the cold on Jan. 16 to support Ms. Campbell (in wheelchair) against cruel eviction plan|
|Photo by Jim West|
Protesters tell Flagstar Bank - stop trying to evict Barbara Campbell!
Wheelchair-bound woman tricked into thinking her mortgage could be modified - then the bank moved to evict.
As Barbara Campbell fights to survive one medical disaster after another -- cancer, heart surgery, loss of kidney function and 3 strokes -- Flagstar Bank has foreclosed on her Detroit home. Now, after many promises that it wouldn't do so, the bank is moving to evict Ms. Campbell. Fannie Mae owned the mortgage, which Flagstar serviced for the federally administered mortgage company.
She clearly qualifies for modification
As a medical hardship case, Ms. Campbell clearly qualifies for the mortgage modification she applied for, and was told that during the modification review there would be no foreclosure on her home. That promise was broken in 2013 when the house suddenly went to sheriff's sale. Flagstar then went to court for an eviction order, after promising Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence it wouldn't do so.
Ms. Campbell at home
This is the same type of action that brought Flagstar before the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in 2014 for "illegally blocking borrowers' attempts to save their homes." Flagstar paid $37 million in penalties, and promised to stop denying loan modifications to qualified homeowners. Flagstar claims to be a Michigan-based"community" bank, but is actually owned by a New York company that Forbes Magazine described as a "Vulture Investor," known for "picking the bones of crumbling companies."
Help press Flagstone bank to stop eviction
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#10-25demo
Winning a new home after tough tax eviction fight
|Kenny & Sandi at ceremony where Detroit Rescue Mission grants them new home. See Detroit Fox2 story.|
Brinkley-Combs win new home after year-long fight vs. eviction
Publicity from their struggle helped convince Detroit Rescue Mission to step in
|See Fox2 News report on how tax auction buyer threatened to throw Kenny & Sandi out of their home|
83-year-old former Motown musician Kenny Brinkley and his wife Sandi Combs have spent the past year holding off an eviction threatened by Sussex, the California investor who bought their home in an unjust tax auction in 2014. As Fox 2 reported on Jan. 14, 2016, "the Detroit Eviction Defense team got involved and kept a roof over their heads."
"They kept us in it," agreed Sandi, who suffered a heart attack when Sussex invaded their front lawn and tried to tear down the trees the Brinkley family had planted a generation ago. She and Kenny now look forward to enjoying the new home the Rescue Mission has just granted them.
Until 2014, Brinkley and Combs had thought they were on their way to buying back the home that had been in the family 40 years, which they'd lost in a tax auction in 2010. Both were trying to recover from hard times -- Kenny had triple-bypass heart surgery in 2002, and Sandi lost her full-time job in 2006. They struck a deal with the company that bought their home in 2010 that their monthly payments would go toward buying it back.
They didn't realize the company pocketed their payments without paying its taxes until California-based Sussex snapped up their home at 2014's tax auctions and immediately moved to evict them.
Couple forestalled eviction order & defeated retaliatory lawsuit
Sussex took the couple to court repeatedly, and with backing from supporters, they kept winning time to appeal. The courts also threw out the vicious lawsuit Sussex had filed against the couple and their backers. Now finally, thanks to the public support efforts, their tough fight has won them a new home of their own.
Supporters backed couple in court and Jazz benefit
Left: Kenny Brinkley & Sandi Combs, surrounded by supporters who backed them in court on Feb. 20. See Fox2 News story on how they won an eviction delay & kept organizing to save their home.
Top: Benefit at Bert's Place Feb. 19 had great music & helped raise money for their fight.
Top: Kenny Brinkley & Sandi Combs, surrounded by supporters who backed them in court on Feb. 20. See excellent Fox2 News story on how they won an eviction delay & organize to save their home.
Below: Benefit at Bert's Place Feb. 19 had great music & helped raise money for their fight.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#gratiotMcdougall
|Lawyer Vanessa Fluker snaps a picture of Gratiot-McDougall activists at event where they thanked her. "We couldn't have made it without you," Ann Talley told her. "I never would have protested anything." Kellie Henderson, Tisha Smith & Shernell Stafford are also seen celebrating their victory.|
Gratiot McDougall families celebrate victory! Developer sells homes to non-profit
After years of fighting to save their homes in the courts and the community, the 15 Gratiot McDougall families threatened with eviction by developer Peter Barclae are finally winning the right to buy their homes.
|Ann Talley grins as developer Peter Barclae signs closing documents selling all Gratiot McDougall homes to United Community Housing Coalition.|
Barclae had turned his back on the promises he originally made to the families when they moved into their homes in Detroit's Gratiot-McDougall area near Eastern Market. But he finally gave in to years of pressure and agreed to sell all 15 homes to United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), the Detroit non-profit that will sell the homes to the families.
Congrats to all who helped them win
They picketed Barclae's business properties, joined rallies and fundraisers, and packed city council, court and mayoral meetings. They made phone calls urging Barclae to settle and contributed to UCHC to help them buy the homes.
One of the many small victories that paved the way came after a rainy-day picket in 2014 at the Pontiac offices of Midas Development-- the Singapore company that Barclae had convinced to market the homes to US and foreign investors. The protests put an end to that!
But the real key to victory was the amazing way the families held together through all the pressure, kept the faith, and refused to give up.
On April 27, before a group of Eviction Defense supporters, District Court Judge David Perkins dismissed Barclae’s latest motion to evict the families, and negotiations finally started. 29 people also stood up for Gratiot McDougall families At March 6 Circuit Court hearing.
Then in May the Gratiot McDougall families and Detroit Eviction defense held a successful barbecue-fundraiser to raise funds to fight any appeal.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#whitfield
Judge delays eviction order vs. Lela Whitfield, convinces Fannie Mae to try mediation
Lela & supporters gain 30 days in fight vs. cruel & senseless eviction
|"Whitfield's problem began in 2005, when her mother fell prey to one of the mortgage industry's most notorious types of loan — the reverse mortgage," explains a Detroit Free Press article featuring her eviction fight. Read it here.|
After a grueling two-year legal battle, Lela Whitfield's fight for her home was down to the wire -- Fannie Mae went to court for an eviction order on Nov. 13. But Fannie Mae's request struck Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller as so unreasonable that she delayed signing the writ for 30 days to "see if we can't work something out so that [Lela] stays in her home and Fannie Mae doesn't have another vacant property in Detroit."
The Judge recognized the 16 people in the courtroom supporting Lela, and two reporters were taking notes. Ms. Whitfield did an excellent job presenting her case -- that she's willing and able to buy back her home at its market value.
Although Fannie Mae claimed that it must evict Whitfield to get insurance money from the federal HUD agency, HUD wrote a letter to protesters that the insurance payout does not depend on evicting Whitfield. Yet Fannie Mae, which is controlled by the federal government, charged on.
All Ms. Whitfield wants is the right to buy back the home she's lived in since a child, which is appraised at just $9000. When her mother owned the home, her mom had taken out a reverse mortgage. By the time Lela found out about it and realized that she had the right to buy the home after her mother's death, the mortgage had been turned over to Fannie Mae, and it had moved to instead evict her. Fannie Mae has already spent huge amounts of taxpayers money to try to get Ms. Whitfield thrown out. Call to urge Fannie Mae to stop the eviction! If you would like to know more about how to support her defense, please sign up for email here.
What is the point of kicking out a homeowner who is trying to keep her home by paying what it's worth in the market? As Lela points out, in her Detroit neighborhood "there are a lot of empty houses, so I'm figuring, why not sell me the house? Why leave it empty to have it stripped, have it gutted?"
Her home is at 839 Manistique, Detroit.
|See Detroit Free Press article on our Sept. 30 demonstration at HUD offices.|
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#hernandez
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#shannon
Help Jennette Shannon fight for her home & justice
A woman who did nothing wrong is caught in a long, bizarre battle that threatens her health, job & home
Shannon purchased her Detroit home in 2010 from Thor Real Estate LLC for $15,000 on a land contract -- with an understanding that the company was responsible for paying the property taxes, and that the amount for taxes was added into her monthly payment.
But the year after she moved in with her daughter and son, she was shocked to be told by Thor's attorney that her house payment was being jacked up by almost $100 a month to pay the property taxes.
Shannon discovered that Thor LLC hadn't paid any property taxes since 2008. Then she found out that Thor has diverted over 400 unpaid waters bills to California, unknown to homeowners.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#ryan
Tenants at Ryan Court Apartments fight unjust evictions
Rehab project turned into nightmare by developer
Dozens of tenants at Ryan Court Apartments -- many of them single moms, seniors and people with disabilities -- are facing eviction through no fault of their own. Ryan Court is subsidized housing in Detroit's Dexter/Davison neighborhood. Its new owners, American Community Developers, Inc., won more than $1.1 million in federal tax credits to rehab 72 units at Ryan Court, in a project approved by HUD. By law, the developers should work with the tenants on the rehab project and if any tenants have to move, they're supposed to get at least one year's advance notice and Housing Choice Vouchers to help with the move.
But American Community Developers is instead trying to stampede dozens of tenants out of their apartments with no respect for their rights. Many are being kicked out for made-up reasons, like having a pet when the tenant doesn't have a pet or having a dirty refrigerator when the refrigerator is clean.
Ryan Court tenants are organizing to defend their homes against the developers, and are asking for community support. A Sept. 30 protest demands answers to the question: How does HUD just stand by and watch this happen?
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#dnews
At last: Someone's talking out loud about Detroit Foreclosure Crisis & its causes
Detroit News series reveals shocking facts:
More than 1 in 3 Detroit properties foreclosed on
The Detroit News took a hard look at the real causes of blight and hardship in Detroit with an excellent series, that can be found here. It starts by revealing facts like these:
Detroit has had more homes foreclosed in the past 10 years than the total number of houses in all of Buffalo, New York.
Since 2005, more than 1-in-3 Detroit properties — 139,699 of 384,672 — have been foreclosed. The vast majority are houses. That's more than the total number of houses in the suburbs Warren, Livonia, Royal Oak, Southfield and Allen Park.
76 percent of the 84,000 properties on the city's blight list are foreclosures.
Wayne County Treasury officials plan to foreclose on another 28,545 city properties for nonpayment of taxes at online auctions this fall. About 10,000 are occupied.
Citywide, lenders sold foreclosed homes for an average $10,500, nearly $30,000 less than city assessors believed they were worth... The average foreclosed home in Detroit had an $83,000 mortgage.
Why have our leaders done nothing to stop this crisis? Hint: Dan Gilbert, the powerful downtown landowner who leads the city's blight task force, also runs Quicken Loans, the fifth biggest foreclosing company - and half the properties it foreclosed on are now blighted. Read more.
Read also Mother Jones magazine article: Detroit Just Had the Single Largest Tax Foreclosure in American History
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#tfjune8
Thousands threatened with losing their homes from fall, 2015 auctions
After dozens took over street to protest on June 8, tax foreclosures were delayed – but just for 3 days
On Monday June 8, hundreds of people still crowded into the Wayne County Treasurer’s office, desperate to find a way to save their homes from crushing taxes and foreclosure. Outside, protesters blocked the street, calling for a moratorium on all tax foreclosures.
The County had twice delayed its plan to foreclose on 37,000 homes – including 22,325 occupied by owners and their families -- at the end of March. Now more than 4,400 owner-occupants and their families are still on the verge of losing their homes to tax foreclosure. The vast majority are Detroiters who had paid taxes for years before the burden got too heavy. (Detroit has the highest poverty of any city in America, yet few homeowners were told they could get a poverty exemption.) Foreclosure is the biggest cause of the blight taking down one Detroit neighborhood after another.
Thousands more: one payment from being thrown back into foreclosure
Even for families who managed to dodge the foreclosure bullet, the crisis is far from over. Many were pushed into harsh terms that they can ill afford, based on assessment values way above what their homes are worth. One woman who lives on a fixed income managed to scrape together $1400 for the first payment, but illness forced her to skip the next payment, so she could lose it all – including her home. Others hit with crises like layoffs need much more flexibility as they struggle to catch up.
And there's a double whammy, as the city of Detroit again adds to the desperation of Detroit families by shutting off the water for tens of thousands who got behind on their water bills.
The ACLU expressed alarm at this "unprecedented human rights catastrophe.” In concert with Eviction Defense and 14 other groups, the ACLU called for a moratorium on foreclosures and warned that “tossing thousands of human beings into the streets as the county plans to do is against the law, not to mention callous and short-sighted…
“The impending foreclosures — which stem, in large part, from excessive taxation on based on grossly inflated assessments — are illegal and violate Detroit residents' constitutional rights."
Detroit homeowners "have been over-assessed for years, if not decades,” said the statement the groups signed. “We need the county to provide more time and means for people to save their homes—but we also need an immediate adjustment of this unfair tax burden to reflect the actual market value of these properties. The county should not try to balance its books on the backs of our most exploited citizens.”
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit also calls for a moratorium on foreclosures in Wayne County.
County loses money when it forecloses
And the foreclosures are “counterproductive,” say the ACLU and allied groups. In the past three years foreclosed homes were sold in auctions that raised just $1 for every $7 that the county had demanded from the former owners in taxes, penalties and interest. And this year, for the first time, the homeowners being foreclosed on are barred from bidding on their homes as they’re auctioned off in Sept. and October – so it’s likely many will be thrown out on the street as distant investors snap up their homes for bargain-basement prices.
Meanwhile, “schools have been closed and services cut to the bone, [and] developers have been given land and generous tax breaks for their projects,” Dianne Feeley points out in Black Agenda Report. “These include turning 8.3 acres of land over to Dan Gilbert, head of Quicken Loans, to develop the Brush Park area just above central downtown...”
Homeowners fight eviction
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#sims
Marie Sims wins fight to regain home
Fannie Mae had ignored her right to rebuy home & sold it to someone else
In October 2014, Marie Sims couldn't make her inflated mortgage payments, and her Detroit home went into foreclosure.
The federally-owned Fannie Mae mortgage company bought it at a sheriff’s sale. Marie knew she had the right to buy her home back and made an offer of $5000. But instead Fannie Mae sold it for just $3600 to a man who wanted to evict her.
She fought back and in April, she bought the home back at a fair price.
Lisa Boudreaux gets back her home after Freddie Mac tried to evict her
When the family home that Lisa Boudreaux grew up in was foreclosed on and taken over by Freddie Mac, she was determined to fight the planned eviction. She did, and she just won. She is now secure in her home. Here is her story.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#GPprotest
Group protests near office of local manager trying to evict Brinkley-Combs
'Have you no shame?'
On April 21, a local group marched past the home office of Blackbird Asset Management. Blackbird is working for the distant investor who's trying to evict Brinkley and Combs from Detroit. The police were called but quickly agreed the group has every right to protest and drove off.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#dexter
Freddie Mac was set to evict in November, but finally gave in to pressure
A powerful video by Detroit Eviction Defense was part of the pressure that finally shamed this federally-owned mortgage company into halting its senseless drive to evict this family in November. Read about Dexter's courageous stand.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#stephens
|Our Oct. 29 picket helped convince Wells Fargo to talk.|
Earlier, eviction was dismissed, in 7-year battle to save home.
The eviction case against this 93-year old woman and her family had been dismissed without prejudice, a key turning point in their seven-year battle to save the home she and her husband bought in 1968.
"We are David going up against Goliath but remember David won the battle!!" says her daughter Denise Stephens, who also gives "Thanks to Detroit Eviction Defense for all you do."
Now that the bank might finally sell the family back their home at an affordable price, the foreclosure itself could be reversed. Thanks to everyone ho called the bank to insist on fairness. More information.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#fanniepr
Feds tell Fannie Mae/ Freddie Mac to sell families their homes back at real value!
|See video of Senator Warren blasting Mel Watt for his inaction even after millions of families lost their homes.|
Families now in foreclosure should finally get chance to buy back their homes
With little fanfare, the government finally announced a new policy that should give thousands of families who lost their homes in the foreclosure crisis a chance to buy their homes back at their real market value. See news release. People who bought homes before housing prices crashed (often victimized by proven bank fraud) have been stuck with mortgages worth many times what their homes would sell for today.
As millions of folks who got behind on the inflated payments are foreclosed on, the banks dump their debts onto the federally-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which now control nearly two out of three of the nation's mortgages. Yet for years Fannie and Freddie stubbornly refused to adjust inflated mortgage values so families could save their homes. It instead spends millions to evict them and then either leaves their homes to be trashed by strippers or sells them at huge discounts to new buyers.
The wounds of that policy are scarring communities across the nation. Eviction Defense and other groups have vigorously called for change – See how we greeted Fannie/Freddy's director Mel Watt when he came to Detroit. Senator Elizabeth Warren also blasted him for his inaction.
Now that change has finally been announced, the key is to make sure people know their new rights , insist on them in courtrooms across the nation, and press for future principle reduction.
See our report on Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: A Hurricane without Water
Tax auction & foreclosure news
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#burkeswin
Detroiters fight to save homes from past tax foreclosures
As developers & slumlords take control of our neighborhoods
Daryl and Lula Burke (left) are lifelong Detroiters who just won back their home after a tough struggle they never should have had to fight. They had become victims of tax foreclosure after Daryl, a Vietnam veteran, became gravely ill and didn't get the support he was promised from the Veteran Affairs Dept. How they won.
|Russell Woods community leaders convinced Channel 4 news to expose how tax foreclosure looms over an 85-year-old long-time resident.|
Neighborhood pushed to stop tax foreclosure
The Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association pressed the Detroit City Council to back its important “Stop the Foreclosures” resolution that could well be a model for other neighborhoods. Read & download it.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#hardhit
|Photo by Valerie Jean|
Get $251 million in 'Helping Hardest Hit' funds to families facing tax foreclosure!
April Protest targeted misuse of funds
The Feds have sent the State of Michigan $498 million in Helping Hardest Hit Homeowner funds "to help homeowners who are at high risk of default or foreclosure.”
Yet even as Michigan's worst-ever tax foreclosure crisis threatens to push tens of thousands of families out of their homes, the State has spent less than $2 of every $5 of that money to aid homeowners. Yet $49 million was spent on blight removal and "administrative expenses."
The remaining $251 million could tackle the tax disaster and save our communities, says Moratorium Now, which called the protest. It says the State wants to "illegally" use $173 million for “blight removal" and to pay bureaucrats, leaving just $79 million to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
For more information: Moratorium Now Coalition, 313-680-5508.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#taxesjudge
On Feb. 18 & 19:
Judge okayed tax foreclosures on thousands families
"Scavenger companies [are] coming into town, buying up properties at foreclosure auctions, and using whatever they can – illegal evictions, tricks and just mass court filings to get people out of their homes.
"No one has really seen anything like it."
Colombo refused to consider hardships & excessive taxes of hundreds who came to object
Several hundred people who had signed objections to having their homes put into tax foreclosure filed into Wayne County Chief Judge Colombo's Courtroom on Feb. 18 and 19. Many told the Judge they had been put into payment plans that they they can't afford.
But despite the many compelling stories people gave describing their medical, economic and familial hardship, Judge Colombo's response to the vast majority of cases was to rule the foreclosure 'granted.'
Tenants organize for rights
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#ferndalemeet
Residents of Autumn House Continue to organize & resist
|Housing Commission meeting at Autumn House|
The residents of Autumn House continue to organize and resist the living conditions imposed on them by the Ferndale Housing Commission. They have drawn up a list of priorities that need to be addressed, including a leaking roof that is contributing to black mold in the building and a lack of air conditioning, that is dangerous for many of the tenants.
Scathing HUD report on Ferndale Housing Comm. calls for change
The HUD Report on the Ferndale Housing Commission came out June 10th. It damned the Board for not carrying out its responsibilities. The number one complaint was the $132,000 wrongly given to Debra Wilson, ex-Director, as severance pay. The Board is liable to pay back $187,000 that it spent on itself, using money meant to be used for low-income housing.
|Testimony in April about the Housing Commission's neglect & discrimination. Read more.|
|Photos from OC115 video|
Tenants suffer from Board neglect
The residents of Autumn House are still without air conditioning, which was brought up for discussion at the last Board meeting, May 20th. Two newly appointed Board members, two representatives from the City, as well as representatives from HUD have all toured the building, located at 500 E. 9 Mile, east of Woodward. They were shown the damp rugs and mold created by a leaking roof and they felt the heat of the building, even though the tour took place when it was only 70 degrees outside.
What happens, residents ask, when it hits 90 and my asthma kicks in? A health crisis, that is what happens.
The residents, as Ferndale Housing Tenants Union, meet bi-weekly. At their last meeting, they discussed and prioritized 11 items needing attention. They will present this to the next Board meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 at Autumn House. The number one item was lack of air conditioning. A (leaking) window air unit feebly pushes air into the community room. The upstairs floors are unbearable. There are issues about how the air conditioners will get paid for. One Board member stated at the last meeting that we wait until someone dies, then we get their window unit.
'No Air? No Fair!'
We should not have to pay for the misuse of funds by the Board! Residents made picket signs, “No Air? No Fair!” and “Let’s Cool It.” And walked to the City Manager’s office, down the street. The Assistant City Manager met with us (along with 2 security guards) and said his office has nothing to do with the running of Autumn House, BUT that they were in negotiations with HUD. Ann Heler, one of the newly appointed Board members saw our little group, but left before talking with any of us.
By supporting each other, tenants make impact
We then went, as a group, to the FHC office, at the Withington Apartments. You need an appointment, the office person first said, then let us in. One of our people had received a Nonpayment of Rent notice, even though he had a receipt and his rent had been put in the drop box. Xerox copies were made, assurances were given that he didn’t have to worry about that paper, and so we left. It was good that we all went, so they could see and so that we can see, we are not alone and we do not have,e insist Commission follow HUD policy on vouchers
Another important decision scheduled to be made at this Board meeting is the change in policy regarding vouchers. Both Charmonique Hopkins and Teresa Benton, among others, were denied vouchers based on the fact that a vacant building was in their neighborhood. We fought this racist, anti-Detroit policy. Both women have had their vouchers reinstated. HUD’s policy is that the structure itself must be free from damage. We want this to be the policy of Ferndale Housing as well.
Supporters are encouraged to join us at the next Ferndale Housing Commission Board meeting (See left column) where Autumn House residents will put forward their demands. Wednesday, July 15, 5 p.m. at Autumn House, 500 E 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#ah
Autumn House tenants confront Ferndale Housing Commission abuses
Autumn House has been “run like a prison,” explained attorney Bob Day, who backed residents and voucher holders as they spoke out at an April 13 Ferndale City Council meeting.
“Residents and voucher holders... came to the podium one by one… to share complaints about the housing program and ask the City Council to get involved in fixing the problems they live with on a day to day basis.” reported OC115.
Autumn House and Section 8 voucher holders met in solidarity March 4 to confront HUD about the abuses and brokenness of the Ferndale Housing Commission under former Ferndale Housing Commission director, Deborah Wilson.
The video shows Autumn House residents speaking out about Deborah Wilson, yet the Board didn't fire her for being caught stealing prescription drugs from tenants. It instead allowed Wilson to step down and in February, approved giving Wilson a severance settlement of $130,000.
As HUD employee Valerie Sims said in the meeting, "This is just the beginning" for residents fighting back.
To link to this story copy: detroitevictiondefense.org/index.php#charmonique
|Video tells Charmonique's story - how the strong life she built from tragedy was endangered by cold-hearted policies.|
How Charmonique Hopkins won back her home
Organizing makes a difference!
Detroiter Charmonique Hopkins’ struggle began in May, 2014, when her family was denied a voucher for a home they had lived in for seven years. Her newly constructed home was not even inspected before she was denied her voucher, the denial based on a boarded up house within a 3 block radius.
Ms. Hopkins spoke out, contacted media, friends, family and Detroit Eviction Defense. She came to meetings and helped organize a fundraiser at her home, which raised enough money to keep the landlord from kicking her out. She was instrumental in publicizing her case and in organizing family and friends in support. She also leafleted at the Transit Authority and in other Detroit locations for city-wide tenant meetings, which she attended with friends.
Inspired by Charmonique, Teresa Benton also stood up for her rights
This media attention attracted Teresa Benton who had suffered similar injustice from Ferndale Housing Commission. She contacted us and involved herself in the broader struggle. She spoke to the Board and let them know how devastating their decision had been to her family, leaving them to live with various relatives, and in effect, homeless. In her words, they “insulted her intelligence” and questioned her ability to make good decisions for her family.
The Ferndale Housing Commission issued an APOLOGY to both women, asserting that they didn’t realize the harm they had caused. As Bob Day said, there was no problem until Ferndale Housing Commission created one – they were the ones who caused the unnecessary stress and harm faced by these families.
There are also problems experienced by the tenants within buildings run by Ferndale Housing Commission, some of which were brought forward at the board meeting – bedbugs, locked community room, repairs not done in a timely manner. We are now working with tenants in their efforts at self-organization.
We also note that the board (all-white) has been challenged more than once as to their composition by tenants of color. We feel tenants and voucher holders should be represented on the board. This would allow problems to be discussed and solved in a more timely fashion. It would be more representative and would be more sensitive to some of the racial issues that are present.
At first they called the police on us!
The first time Detroit Eviction Defense approached the board, they called the police on us and refused to meet with Charmonique Hopkins and her attorney. But diligent organizing and direct action does make a difference!
More tenant news: