Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Technorati button
Reddit button
Myspace button
Linkedin button
Webonews button
Delicious button
Digg button
Flickr button
Stumbleupon button
Newsvine button

Supporters rally around woman on Cedarwood Terrace as she faces another eviction

x

Embed

x

Share

CLOSE

Here’s a breakdown of the stories right now at www.democratandchronicle.com.
Virginia Butler

About a month after being evicted, Elizabeth McGriff returned to the home she lost in foreclosure. ”It was open,” she said. “I just moved back in.”

A year has gone by, and she has gotten another eviction notice. Housing rights activists, homeless shelter leaders, community land trust members, priests, religious sisters and neighbors are taking shifts sitting at 618 Cedarwood Terrace, hoping to dissuade sheriff’s deputies from putting her out on the street again. 

Her supporters say they are taking a stand against an impenetrable financial system that condones predatory lending practices and crushes people like McGriff, who fell behind on mortgage payments after losing her job. 

McGriff’s home is now owned by Midfirst Bank, a financial institution that she had never heard of before learning that it owned her mortgage. McGriff took out a loan to help pay for the three bedroom house she bought for $53,000 in 2001. After she lost her job in 2008 she missed a number of payments. The mortgage was sold and resold, as was common during an era when banks were purchasing distressed mortgages as investments, hoping to turn a profit when they foreclosed on the properties and sold them, or collected insurance for them. 


Once McGriff got back on her feet, she says she tried to catch up on her payments and renegotiate the terms of her mortgage with Midfirst, but got nowhere. With a new job she had a willingness and ability to pay, but the bank foreclosed on her home. To buy it outright, would have require her to come up with more than $100,000 in cash.

Her cause since has been taken up by Take Back the Land Rochester, a local branch of a national housing rights organization. The group helped prevent a number of eviction attempts against McGriff and supported her efforts to reoccupy the house after she was evicted.  On Friday morning, supporters tied a massive red, black and green banner across the front of the house that read “Take back the land.” Smaller posters said “Housing is a human right” and “Greedy banks love vacant homes.”


I can’t give you Midfirst Bank’s side of the story. None of my calls and emails to the bank were returned. McGriff’s house, assessed at $73,000, probably isn’t a huge priority for this Oklahoma City-based bank, which has more than $14 billion in assets. 

The fact that the house is an infinitesimally small part of the bank’s portfolio makes some hopeful that Midfirst might agree to sell the property back to McGriff under affordable terms, or sell it to the City Roots Community Land Trust, a non-profit whose mission is to preserve housing affordability in Rochester through community-owned-and-managed land. 

“We would love to see our elected officials and public joining us in saying to Midfirst through letter writing and phone calls. ‘Hey, don’t let this be another vacant home.’  Come to the table. We have a not-for-profit that is willing to steward the affordability,” said Joe Di Fiore, president of the board of City Roots Community Land Trust. 

Since Monday, there have been daily community rallies and religious services on McGriff’s lawn on Cedarwood Terrace. Mayoral candidates Rachel Barhart and Alex White attended Thursday’s rally, along with City Council candidate Mary Lupien. 


Attendees were encouraged to call Midfirst and ask them to negotiate. Rev. Maya Brown, who presided over a religious service at the home on Wednesday, said she had been tweeting at the bank to try to get its attention. 

So far, the efforts have been for naught. ”You can’t talk to a decision maker,” said James Murphy, a Catholic Worker for Saint Joseph’s House of Hospitality who has tried to negotiate with the bank on behalf of McGriff. He was in the first shift of house-sitters on Friday morning. ”Everytime we felt we were getting somewhere, they would switch us to a new person who knew nothing about the situation.”  

Murphy said he wishes local governments would enact a moratorium on using community policing resources to evict people for out-of-town banks. The practice, he says, simply creates more vacant homes that cause a host of problems for neighborhoods. 

Midfirst currently owns about 30 homes in Rochester. All are vacant, except McGriff’s. By 4 p.m. Friday, no sheriffs had shown up to evict her. The uncertainty is nerve-wracking, she said, but she holds out hope that the bank will have a change of heart. “Our community has been devastated by foreclosures,” she said. ”I am hoping there is a miracle.”  

Erica Bryant is the Pay it Forward Columnist. Contact her at ebryant@gannett.com.

Article source: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/07/29/eviction-cedarwood-terrace-foreclosure/516472001/

Speak Your Mind

*