We meet every Thursday, 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 new possible foreclosure/eviction, please come at 5:45.
Tenant action meeting is at 5 p.m. each week.
|From WXYZ report|
Picket vs. Ferndale Housing Commission's anti-Detroit bias
Help Charmonique Hopkins save her home!
Wed. Nov. 19, 4 pm,
The latest outrage at Ferndale Housing Commission came when its Director was arrested for breaking into tenants' apartments and stealing prescription drugs! This is same director who says Charmonique Hopkins and other voucher holders in Detroit must move out of good homes and out of Detroit.
Charmonique Hopkins was denied HUD rental assistance for the well-tended home she's lived in for years because of Commission discrimination against Detroit.
Come to Harvest Party/Fundraiser for 12 Detroit families fighting eviction
Saturday, Nov. 22
Old St. John's Church, 2120 Russell Street.
These Gratiot McDougall families are fighting to save their homes & neighborhood from a West Bloomfield developer who deceived them & now is trying to evict them & sell their homes to distant investors.
This is a defining battle for all Detroiters struggling against predatory investors. Join us in solidarity and friendship. We'll have food & music & donations are welcome but not required.
City Wide Tenants’ Meeting
Saturday, Nov. 22
111 E. Kirby, Detroit
You can now make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work!
Save the date for Lela Whitfield's jury trial!
Tues., Jan. 19
36th District Court
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 supporting Whitfield in each hearing, as she fought eviction.
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.
We picketed Wells Fargo office to help Stephens family save their home
Oct. 29 in Grosse Pointe Woods
The Stephens family is fighting to keep the Detroit home that Mrs. Stephens, who is now 93 years old, bought with her husband in 1968. Find out more.
We delivered a letter to bank officials during a mid-day protest in front of the bank on Oct. 29. See flyer.
Supporters came out for Lorraine Dexter in court Nov. 5
The eviction was delayed at the last minute - read what's going on.
Tenants spoke out for organizing city-wide
Saturday Oct. 25
Thanks to all who came out Oct. 2 to protest Fannie Mae policies
The crowd marching in front of the library where Fannie Mae head Mel Watt spoke included union members from UAW-GM, Ford Local 600, Local 140, and other unions. Several carloads of Chicago activists from Centro Autonomo and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign then arrived and spoke out inside the town hall. We also delivered a letter from Americans for Financial Reform, plus the list of Detroit organizations supporting principal reduction.
Eviction case dismissed!
Tsehaya Smith can buy back home she saved from blight
|In her fight to save her home, Tsehaya Smith (r.) created this beautiful banner that Jerry Cullors helps hold up.|
Cookout/rent party raised 2 months' rent on Sept. 27
Thanks so much to the over 60 people who came out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to support Charmonique Hopkins and Detroit Eviction Defense.
We raised enough to keep the Hopkins family in their home for at least two months while we pursue our struggle against Ferndale Housing Commission. The food was plentiful and delicious, the conversation and camaraderie guaranteeing a good time for all. Again, thanks to everyone who came out, donated a dish, time and money.
Read her story.
|Backed by supporters, Ann Talley asks for the Mayor's support (top) & gives him a hug & a T-shirt after his positive response.|
families got 'a raw deal,' Mayor Duggan agreed
At Sept. 25 District 5 Detroit meeting
A group wearing new T-shirts showing their support for Gratoit -McDougall families got Mayor Duggan's attention in their crusade to stop the unjust eviction of 13 families.
Detroit gave taxpayer money to Peter Barclae, a failed developer from West Bloomfield, to build affordable homes in the Gratiot McDougall area. Barclae now refuses to honor his obligation to sell the homes to the families living there and paying towards their purchases.
The Mayor agreed they got a "raw deal" and says he'll do whatever is in his power to help them get justice.
Barclae ploys foiled in Court
In June, July & again on Sept. 5 &12
As the families fought back bogus motions to evict them so the developer can sell their homes to a Singapore Company, supporters were there to back them up.
On July 25, the 22 people who came out to support the families were noted by the Judge, who refused to let Barclae take the money homeowners are putting into escrow.
Thanks to all who picketed Bank of America:
Don't evict Acheampong family!
On August 29,
Downtown Detroit Guardian Building
After the protests the Bank withdrew its threat of eviction, but it still won't modify the mortage so the family can keep their home. Find out more.
We also got the Bank's attention by picketing a branch earlier in August.
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 payments were applied has put their former home up for rent.
Lela Whitfield gets jury trial, but...
Fannie Mae lawyers get more big bucks to keep trying to evict her
When Lela Whitfield went back to 36th District Court Oct. 24 - - yet again – to resist Fannie Mae’s drive to evict her from her family home, the judge agreed that Fannie Mae had made mistakes. For one thing, Fannie Mae didn’t let Lela know that her home was appraised for $7000 -- a price she could afford if she knew about it, as she desperately tries to buy back the home she grew up in. (Fannie Mae’s lawyer tried to pass of an internal document as proof they gave Lela notice.)
Thousands of $$, days of court time -- all to destroy a $7000 home
After five hours of court testimony in the previous hearing, Judge Garrett finally found, on the record, that the foreclosure of Lela’s home was illegal. But even this didn’t cap off the string of eviction hearings that began in May (after February hearings were postponed),
It took hours more testimony for the Judge to finally decide to refuse Fannie Mae’s eviction demand. But that victory didn’t give Lela the right to buy back her home, What she won was a jury trial, scheduled for January 19, 2015. Meanwhile, she'll have to pay money she’s saving for the mortgage on rent. Update on jury trial. How Lela's nightmare began.
As the battle drags on, Lela will take even more unpaid time off work, and the federal government will waste even more big bucks trying to run her out. But Lela's resolve to fight for her rights has strengthened.
Why is Fannie Mae – an agency now run by the federal government – wasting court resources and spending thousands of dollars on high-priced lawyers trying to evict this woman? If they succeed, another Detroiter will be without a home and another neighborhood will be plunged further into blight. It makes no sense.
What you can do
Please insist that the government stop fighting Lela Whitfield and stop threatening her embattled neighborhood with yet another empty house. Urge them to accept her offer to buy her family home for the $7000 the appraiser said it’s worth.
CALL FANNIE MAE at: (312)368-6200 and (866)442-8572 & urge them to let her buy back her family home. Reference loan #3202852 and FHA case #2618927229-952. The borrower was Lela’s deceased mother, Betty Cook. Home is at 839 Manistique, Detroit, MI 48215.
Lorraine Dexter on the verge of eviction:
'I have the money - let me stay in my home...
I'm the last one standing & I refuse to go easily.'
Lorraine's sister had taken out the mortgage at the peak of the housing bubble, and after that sister died in 2010, Lorraine tried to transfer the mortgage to her name. She also applied for a modification with Chase, but instead got a big run-around.
She got them the money, they sold her house anyhow
When she realized that the checks had bounced, Dexter worked frantically to get to the bank's Loss Mitigation team and halt the sale. She got all the documents to Freddie Mac’s law firm, Trott and Trott, including “proof of ability to pay”and a cashier’s check that more than covered what she owed, just before the sale date.
But Freddie Mac's lawyers went ahead with the Sheriff’s sale the next day. Ms. Dexter then tried to buy back the home at market value, without success, and at one point landed in the hospital for stress-related illness. She's now suing Freddie Mac and Chase Bank in federal court for their negligence and deceit. See her tell her story in this video.
Despite the shadiness of the Sheriff’s sale, Freddie Mac won a court order on Nov. 5 to immediately seize the home and put Ms. Dexter on the street. She returned to court two days later with a lawyer and won a motion for reconsideration – because she's now considered a tenant. After having seen her neighbors evicted from every other home on her block, Lorraine Dexter is determined to draw the line. And we want to stand with her. Stay tuned.
Despite the shadiness of the Sheriff’s sale, Freddie Mac won a court order on Nov. 5 to immediately seize the home and put Ms. Dexter on the street. She returned to court two days later with a lawyer and won a motion for reconsideration – because she's now considered a tenant.
After having seen her neighbors evicted from every other home on her block, Lorraine Dexter is determined to draw the line. And we want to stand with her. Stay tuned.
Tenants Defense meeting draws 50 people
Outrage at property neglect,
forcing out tenants
About 50 people came out for the Tenants Defense meeting on October 25 at the International Institute in Detroit.
Young and old, black, white, Latin, Middle Eastern, all were concerned about the effects of gentrification (forcing out low-income residents so richer folks can get the property) and other displacement now happening in Detroit.
They are being pushed out, and feel it! Wealthy property owners like Mike Ilitch and Dan Gilbert, want them out so they can raise rents, let subsidies elapse and cater to younger and whiter renters with more money.
Owners are letting properties go into disrepair and neglect. They don’t clean up trash and flagrantly disregard the law as well as common human decency. Some refuse to accept checks or money orders, insisting on cash only. They prevent visitors from entering the building and act like, as one woman said, “its theirs and they can do what they want.”
We are here to say, no, they can’t. Rules apply to owners too. We plan to organize building by building, supporting each other as we demand rightful living conditions. One demand to come out of the meeting is Renewal of Senior Housing Agreements, because that 25-year HUD program from the 1990's is now due to come to an end.
We are planning for action in meetings every Thursday at 5 p.m., before the regular 6 p.m. Detroit Eviction Defense meeting at 2120 Russell. We're also planning another meeting for mid-November, time and place to be announced.
Protest at Wells Fargo backs Stephens family in 6-year battle
Letter delivered to bank, family awaits reply
Mr. and Mrs. Stephens purchased the Detroit home where they raised their three daughters in 1968. Ms. Stephens is now 93 years old and has been trying for more than six years to save her home. When Mrs Stephens tried to get a loan modification on her mortgage, Wells Fargo agreed only if her daughter Denise Stephens assumed the mortgage. Denise assumed the mortgage, but the bank put her through a run-around and then foreclosed anyhow. The Stephens family won that case through the Foreclosure Review process.
Now the bank is trying to foreclose again on the family's Home Equity Loan. The bank refused to negotiate, even though the family has significant cash ($24,000) in the home’s escrow account, and the bank was found fraudulent in the mortgage.
A group picketed a bank branch on October 29 and delivered a strong letter of protest that the bank promised to respond to. See letter Denise Stevens gave the bank.
Call Wells Fargo (previous Wachovia Bank). Ask for Mitch McLaughlin 1-800-853-8516 x45036 (located at 19720 Chesterfield, Detroit, MI 48221). Insist that Wells Fargo negotiate a loan modification so the Stephens family can stay. Click to see more on protest, in left column.
Wayne County's fall, 2014 auctions were devastating
Thousands of families lost their homes to 2014 tax auction, 2015 looms
Many couldn't afford tax bills that stayed high as housing values plunged
|Some 40 people came to our October 11 speak-out to reveal tax-auction abuses & ways to organize against them.|
More than 9,000 occupied homes went up for auction in September. One investor alone snapped up 103 properties, one out of ten sold. The County plans to sell the rest — including thousands of family homes — in October, when big investors are again big bidders. Next year, as many as 100,000 properties are slated to be auctioned to the highest bidder.
County Treasurer promotes auction as 'investment opportunity'
Auctions give an opportunity to “vulture” investors to profit off residents and homeowners hit by hardship and unjust tax assessments. But for people who are elderly, sick, laid-off or otherwise facing economic problems, the auction can mean the loss of both a family home and years put into that home.
Many of the investors who buy auctioned homes have a history of neglecting them, contributing to the blight that plagues Detroit and the county. Over the last four years thousands of families have lost their homes in the auctions, and the future will drive thousands more out of their houses, so long as this failed tax system is not addressed. Over ¼ of the property in Detroit is “subject to foreclosure,” say researchers.
They don't ease the core issues of unreasonable debt, red tape, needless restriction and hard times. The broken property tax system, failed job recovery, increased costs for those on fixed income, and a city bankruptcy that targets pensioners, all have or will continue to fuel this tax foreclosure and eviction explosion. Yet this year the County is showing less flexibility!
The last thing we need is more families evicted from their homes in Detroit and Wayne County. Many have nowhere to go. And we see the wreckage of past foreclosures all around us.
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 30% are approved!), and have made themselves hard to reach. Just 22% of the millions earmarked for distressed homeowners had been spent by the last months of 2013.
At the October 11 "speakout" we sponsored, people told of abuses and how we can fight such abuses as the auctions continue. Flyer outlining some of the issues people raised.
|A protest of more than 50 people in June convinced Midas company to stop marketing the families' homes|
Gratiot McDougall families fight to save homes from predatory developer
Mayor Duggan calls it a 'raw deal,' vows to help
City Council, HUD director express concern, protests continue
On Sept 25, Antoinette Talley and her neighbors took another step closer to saving their homes in the Gratiot McDougall development on Detroit’s east side when Detroit's Mayor said he wants to help. Check it out.
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. But after he got 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 & Metro Times did fine stories on our July 11 rally against Barclae.|
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 where the Judge was so surprised by Barclae's marketing of homes in dispute that she delayed the company's demand for escrow.
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. His various attempts to evict immediately have failed in court.
|On Oct. 2, 150 protesters called for real eviction relief|
Fannie Mae head greeted with protest
150 march outside against foreclosures
Inside, we insist: Cut mortgage principal, stop evicting
FHFA Director Mel Watt, the man who oversees the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage companies taken over by the Feds, came to Detroit October 2 to promote a program to help some homeowners – but only those who’ve kept up with overpriced mortgages. Watt did give a hotline number to call – 1-888-995-hope – but had little else to offer the thousands of families Fannie and Freddie are aggressively foreclosing on – even though many were pushed into default through shady practices by banks and loan servicers.
Some 150 people joined a spirited morning protest outside the Detroit Public Library where Watt was about to speak. Inside the library, his carefully-scripted agenda was cut short by a real dialogue where the audience not only told some horror stories of Fannie Mae foreclosures, but also laid out specific proposals that could bring real relief to people facing foreclosure.
We pointed out that in Detroit, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac moved to evict more than 3,000 Detroit families from 2011 through April of 2013. Today 40 percent of homeowners owe more on mortgages than their houses are worth and nearly one in ten are behind on payments. We want bold new policies: To keep people in their homes by cutting loan principal on Fannie Mae /Freddie Mac mortgages; and to let foreclosed families and community non-profit groups buy back their homes at distressed market value.
Read Detroit News article on Watt & the protest & Bloomberg News-BusinessWeek article: "Principal-Reduction Calls Confront FHFA’s Watt as He Touts HARP."
|More than 60 people backed Hopkins' right to stay in this well-kept home & neighborhood by holding a Rent Party - See story on left.|
|Video tells Charmonique's story - she waited for an inspector who never came, & now the strong life she's built from tragedy is endangered.|
Stop racist discrimination vs. Detroiter
& her lovely neighborhood
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. Please also call HUD's Detroit office at 313-226-7900 to thank Director Polsennelli for his concern & ask them to continue pressing the Ferndale Commission to evaluate Detroit homes fairly.
See strong letter from Hopkins' attorney Bob Day for inspiration & the full story.
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!
|25 people marched to Bank of America branch on August 2 & then picketed the downtown bank Aug. 29 to support the Acheampong family.|
Andrews Acheampong gets help to save his family's home
Our campaign helped convince Bank of America to halt its threat to evict Andrews Acheampong, his wife and two children from his home of 25 years. But the bank still won't grant the loan modification it told him he could get -- even after he made the required payments.
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.
Watt promised a Detroit “Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative” (NSI) in May, and the first stage could make a small concession to our campaign to "Save Detroit—Save Our Homes” with a very limited program of buybacks for homeowners who have gone through mortgage foreclosure.
Mel Watt was in Detroit Thurs., October 2, to promote his approach. Find out more.
Join city-wide campaign:
Save Detroit—Save Our Homes!
80 groups call for end to 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.
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.
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. See video.
What to do about tax foreclosure
If you or someone you know is in danger of tax foreclosure, please act now.
- Help us organize to stop all tax foreclosures of owner-occupied homes. Across the country people have been saving their homes by working together. At Speak out! on October 11, people discussed ways to organize for future tax auctions. Find out more.
- Visit United Community Housing Coalition at 22 Bagley, Suite 224, Detroit Mon., Tues. or Wed. morning. Web site.
To save our homes & communities we want:
1). Moratorium on tax evictions and foreclosures of owner-occupied homes; immediately cut property tax assessments to reflect “fair” market value; 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; give them a reasonable payment plan.
3). The county and city should develop affordable back tax payment plans, cut its bureaucracy, correct errors promptly, provide “due process”, allow year-round tax reassessment, reduce penalties, stop addition of water bills and give preference to home owners and renters willing to stay in the city.
4). Streamline and ease restrictions on Step Forward Michigan, to get the money to distressed homeowners! Communities should control distribution of Hardest Hit Funds (like Step Forward) to be sure it gets to the people who need it! Don’t divert funds meant for homeowners to demolish homes - stopping foreclosures prevents blight!
5). Take legal action to make banks, mortgage companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or HUD stop dumping properties on the cities and county -- and to recover the taxes and demolition 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 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 report demystifies the complex world of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and shows how they wreck havoc on our homes and our neighborhoods. Shows how we can fight their destructive practices.
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.
|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.|
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.
We will always be inspired by his strength and leadership.
How even a phone call will make a big difference