Note: April 17 meeting rescheduled to Wed., April 16,
6 pm because of holiday week.
We meet Thurs. April 10, April 24 & 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.
To help with Communications, please come at 5:30 p.m. April 10.
|Photo thanks to Daymon Hartley|
|A protest meeting at Central United Methodist Church March 2 was packed (top) & hundreds marched on April 1 vs. bankruptcy scheme.|
File your protests vs. bankruptcy scheme
April 28, 2014
is the deadline
for filing objections to Kevin Orr's "Plan of Adjustment" for Detroit.
The plan gives lip service to attacking “blight,“ but ignores the causes -- predatory lending and massive evictions of families since 2008. Instead it is privatizing Detroit services, funneling money to the same banks that foreclose on families without mercy or just cause, and attacking the modest pensions of city workers.
Support Lela Whitfield in hearing May 5
In Detroit's 36th District Court, Ms. Whitfield is fighting for the right to buy the home she's lived in most of her life.
She got an earlier hearing postponed, but a new court date is now set for May 5.
Find out more.
hearing canceled, new hearing is April 28
Instead of taking her to court Jan. 28, Fannie Mae is negotiating!
Last December, in a Detroit courtroom full of supporters for Ms. Smith, Judge Evans granted her time to argue against being evicted from her family's Detroit home of over 50 years. Now Fannie Mae has agreed to talk.
But there's no settlement, and a new hearing is set for April 28.
Congratulations to teachers & staff at Cesar Chavez Academy!
After they unionized, the management of this Detroit charter school hired a union-busting attorney to fire popular staff & stall bargaining with their AFT union.
Even as they were fighting for their professional life and students, Cesar Chavez staff joined our vigil to save the Hernandez family from eviction.
The academy has now closed the books on union-busting, rehired fired staff with back pay, and is in serious talks for a good union contract.
|After we visited the luxury home of a mortgage scammer who cheated the Hernandez family, he moved out & was arrested.|
A Dream Foreclosed:
Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home
"Dr. King would be appalled that today thousands of people are affected by the banks’ mortgage and foreclosure crisis," writes Eviction Defense activist Jerry Cullors in a review of this book for Labor Notes.
Among the four families the book focuses on -- "giving an inside view of each family’s challenges with banks and bank servicing agents" -- are the Garretts, who "found courage and support from Detroit Eviction Defense." Read the review.
|Homeowner Jerry Cullors & Eviction Defense lawyer Jerry Goldberg testified in Lansing|
|Photo by Terry Hall|
Lansing attack on homeowners!
Outrageous bills the Governor signed take effect in 2014. Find out more.
Thanks to all for the great rally for Jerome Jackson last fall
The food cooked by his sister Jettowynne Jones & other activists was plentiful & delicious, the music was great, & the solidarity was inspiring!
A special shout-out to the new people who came out!
Last year we also helped many homeowners avoid tax eviction. And we tried to convince Wayne County Commissioners to halt the Sept. & Oct. auctions of owner-occupied homes.
Ray Mandry gets settlement, not eviction
|Video tells the shocking story of how Ray Mandry, a vet who has disabilities, had to fight the government he served, as it tried to evict him from his home.|
|Photo by Daymon Hartley|
Eviction threat halted for woman victim of violence
As supporters packed hearing April 1, Inkster Housing Authority withdrew eviction request
Eviction Defense and other activists rallied outside the Inkster court and then filled the courtroom to support a young woman that Inkster Public Housing was trying to evict. Her offense? She had reported that the father of her eldest child beat her up. The Housing Authority finally admitted that such an eviction violates the Violence against Women Act, which says women can't be punished for being victims of attacks. The Authority will instead ban the attacker from the premises.
Representatives from the ACLU, National Action Network, and two women's shelters also came out in support, and the ACLU, NOW, Coalition of Labor Union Women and a number of shelters joined us in writing Housing officials to express their outrage.
Hundreds of citizens marched at the Federal Courthouse April 1 to back complaints filed over Emergency Manager Kevin Orr's Detroit bankruptcy plan. His “Plan of Adjustment” earmarks millions for the same banks that trashed our economy and foreclosed on our neighborhoods, while threatening to slash the pensions promised to city workers.
Find out how to file your objection to Orr's plan
Photo thanks to Daymon Hartley
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 to foreclose on close to 50,000 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.
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 record their interests and/or failed to pay the back taxes owed before the families moved in.
Step Forward steps 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, and often don’t even answer the phone. 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
By March 31, families threatened with foreclosure were supposed to pay off all the taxes and penalties owed through 2011, or have worked out a plan with the county. But even now, it's possible to save a home from being auctioned off in September and October.
|Now: 2014 Before foreclosure: 2009|
Fannie Mae foreclosed on this home when the family had trouble paying a $34,000 mortgage. Then it sold the house to an investor for $2,400. Unpaid property taxes: $6,800
Join city-wide campaign:
Save Detroit—Save Our Homes!
75 neighborhoods & faith-based, labor & community groups join in call to end destructive federal bank policy
Homeowners visited the offices of Senator Stabenow, Congressman Conyers and Congressman Peters March 13 as part of a nationwide push for changes in federal policy.
A city-wide campaign is brewing to keep people in their homes and stop the storm surge of foreclosure and eviction that is devastating communities and destroying the tax base. A coalition of neighborhood associations, unions, churches, and social justice groups is mounting a campaign to reverse the policies at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that drive thousands of Detroit families from their homes. See the latest (March 25) list of endorsers.
While we fight eviction case by case, we also target the policies that abuse homeowners and ravage our neighborhoods. Download the new flyer that describes the campaign and urge your union, church or group to join the list of endorsers we will deliver to Washington DC.
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
See details. For more information on how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are threatening our community, you can also download the 10 page booklet, “A Hurricane Without Water.”
Hernandez family fights off eviction
First eviction order expired, new eviction order delayed 45 days, talks underway
|In a video by Excellent Schools Detroit, the Hernandez sisters talk 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, their three daughters Kriscia, Yelinne, and Litzy (and their puppy) – are determined to stay in the Southwest Detroit home where they've lived for over a decade.
This 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, and to stop demanding they pay a sum that now totals more than four times the current value of the house.
Fannie Mae asked for a Feb. 20 court hearing to get a new eviction order, and we got ready to contest it. But Fannie Mae, which has a new director, finally responded to pressure and agreed to talk.
Mortgage impostor who stole their savings arrested
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 to insist he repay the family, alerted neighbors, and filed a complaint with the Attorney General -- and other victims also complained -- Sandoval was asked to leave his luxury home and was arrested.
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 unions and neighbors, for helping the family get its first break. And we appreciate the Hernandez family's refusal to bend to injustice.
Judge holds off eviction of the
We thank all who supported them in 36th District Court on March 20
Because the Armstrongs were not properly notified they were foreclosed on and risked eviction, Judge Ruth Ann Garrett refused to approve the eviction order. As the crowd of supporters in the courtroom helped bolster their case, the family won a 30-day reprieve.
Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong paid the property taxes they owed on their Detroit home – but then were shocked to discover that the County had sold their home to a management company, which then took them to court to evict them.
They had paid their overdue tax bill to the city, but Detroit kept the money for future tax bills instead of passing it on to Wayne County, which was threatening them with tax foreclosure. The Armstrongs sued the city and county, but the case was dismissed.
They are appealing because of denial of due process / failure to provide notice.
Ray Mandry fought eviction & is now, finally, safe in his home.
Homeowners get settlement, not eviction
Three homeowners who testified at our People's Hearing last year have won settlements with Fannie Mae that kept them from being evicted. Confidentiality clauses keep us from giving details, but they are:
Ray Mandry, a veteran with disabilities who was unemployed during the Great Recession Hear his story; Thea Simmons, who fell behind on her mortgage after the City of Detroit laid her off; and Edward Khammo, who went into default after becoming seriously ill.
Our hearing got their attention
All three had applied for modifications from the two banks servicing the mortgages for Fannie Mae, Chase and Bank of America. The banks then "lost" paperwork, switched personnel, and ran up profitable late fees during phony trial mortgage modifications or forbearance before suddenly seeking eviction orders on behalf of Fannie Mae.
We apparently got Fannie Mae's attention at the People's Hearing held last May, even though Fannie Mae officials who had promised to attend backed out at the last moment. The day after Ray Mandry testified to the empty chairs we had placed in the hall for the missing officials, Fannie Mae lawyers called and talks began for a settlement. Mandry got a "reasonable" loan modification that allows him to remain in his home.
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.
|On Feb. 19, 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.|
Jerome Jackson purchased his home in Inkster in 2004, as part of a nationwide Fannie Mae program targeting people with disabilities for loans that turned out to be predatory. A key part of the deal was that Wayne County and Community Living Services promised to subsidize the mortgage payments.
Jackson did his part, paying his portion of the mortgage each month. And he made his entire home wheelchair accessible. But the County and CLS stopped paying their share, and Fannie Mae moved in to evict.
What we can do
- Call Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano: (313) 224-0286. Insist that he honor Wayne County's agreement with Jerome and work with Fannie Mae to keep Jerome in his home
- Call Community Living Services at (734) 467-7600. Tell them to honor their promise and help Jerome save his home.
Tell Fannie Mae: Don't evict Baxter Jones
We took the struggle to stop the eviction of Baxter Jones to Fannie Mae's Chicago offices on Aug. 20. We did get Fannie Mae to talk to us, but they didn't follow through.
Tsehaya Smith's eviction hearing on hold until April 28
As she fights for her family home
Smith was threatened with eviction from her family home of 50 years before the holidays, but with Eviction Defense help, she won time to present her case.
Fannie Mae, which has been pursuing the eviction, has now agreed to talk. Smith continues to organize support to save her home in a neighborhood that desperately needs occupied homes. Activists, friends & family are making calls to help her. Find out more, give her a hand!
After Ms. Smith inherited the home from her mother, the responsibility to pay the mortgage was divided between her and her sisters but eventually fell on Ms. Smith, who lives in the home.
The bank told her to stop paying
The mortgage payments were high, and after paying $25,000 -- more than the home's appraised value, Ms. Smith tried to get a loan modification. Wells Fargo Bank, the servicer of the mortgage, told her that she would have to stop making payments to get the mortgage modified. When Ms. Smith did stop paying, Wells Fargo foreclosed on her instead of modifying her mortgage.
This is crazy!
How even a phone call will make a big difference