Liz McGriff Takes Back Her Home!

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On Wednesday May 4th, Rochester resident Elizabeth McGriff and her son moved back in and began a re-occupation of their home at 618 Cedarwood Terrace, Rochester, NY. The McGriff family was evicted from their home on April 5th by MidFirst Bank and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) leaving them homeless. For the last month they have slept on couches at the homes of family and friends, but have continued to be leaders in the local and national housing justice movements. McGriff is a member of Take Back the Land Rochester and the national Homes For All campaign.

Along with the support of Take Back The Land Rochester (TBTL-R), McGriff, and at least 50 people are pledging to defend the home and engage in civil disobedience until the HUD Secretary Julian Castro meets their demands. A press conference was held on Thursday May 6th to announce the homecoming and launch Homes For All’s new campaign calling for 30% of all FHA foreclosed properties to be donated to community controlled institutions around the country. 

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On Wednesday May 4th, Rochester resident Elizabeth McGriff and her son moved back in and began a re-occupation of their home at 618 Cedarwood Terrace, Rochester, NY. The McGriff family was evicted from their home on April 5th by MidFirst Bank and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) leaving them homeless. For the last month they have slept on couches at the homes of family and friends, but have continued to be leaders in the local and national housing justice movements. McGriff is a member of Take Back the Land Rochester and the national Homes For All campaign.

Along with the support of Take Back The Land Rochester (TBTL-R), McGriff, and at least 50 people are pledging to defend the home and engage in civil disobedience until the HUD Secretary Julian Castro meets their demands. A press conference was held Thursday May 6th to announce the homecoming and launch Homes For All’s new campaign calling for 30% of all FHA foreclosed properties to be donated to community controlled institutions around the country. 

“I’m demanding that FHA let me stay in my house and donate it to the Ujamaa community land trust so that my family and I have a place to call home,” says McGriff. “Given how much they have taken from us, giving back a portion of their homes is the least they can do. I can’t even express all the suffering we’ve been put through.”

Since the advent of the foreclosure crisis black and latino families total wealth has been reduced by 48% and 44% respectively. 29% of all US household wealth was lost as a result of crisis. After losing her job at the US Post Office during the economic crisis and then becoming reemployed McGriff reached out to MidFirst bank to negotiate an option to repurchase her home. MidFirst, emboldened by a FHA insurance guarantee demanded that she pay $130,000 for the home, even though the original loan was for $53,000 and the assessed value of the home was $73,000. 

“The fact that FHA guarantees allow banks like MidFirst to rake in huge profits as a direct result of making families homeless should elicit our outrage. This racket is essentially making extortion permissible and will not be tolerated by our community,” explains TBTL Rochester organizer Ryan Acuff. “According to After MidFirst Bank they plan to submit an FHA insurance claim to recoup a 246% profit over the original loan value.” 

Across the country hundreds are signing onto a national petition and taking to social media to stand with Ms. McGriff and call for FHA to reverse their policy of bulk-selling distressed properties to Wall Street firms and instead transfer 30% of all vacant & owner-occupied foreclosed homes to community controlled institutions like Community Land Trusts. 

“FHA & HUD are already selling off massive numbers of homes for huge-discounts, but they are selling them back to Wall Street,” explains Tony Romano, the organizing director of the Right To The City Alliance which is helping to organize communities around the country to win community control of land. 

Julian Castro and FHA (which is part of HUD) have come under fire over the last two years for the DASP (Distressed Assets Stabilization Program) which has overseen bulk discounted sales of previously foreclosed homes to many of the same Wall Street firms who created the crisis in the first place. According to a report by the Right To The City Alliance & the Center For Popular Democracy called “Vulture Capital Hits Home” 97% of the auctioned loans under DASP have gone to for-profit firms like Loan Star Fund and Blackstone Group that specialize in flipping distressed assets for profit or converting properties to market-rate rentals. 

“The model that got us into this housing crisis is not going to be the model that will get us out. We need FHA to end bulk sales of properties back to Wall Street speculators and instead transfer these properties to institutions with a community controlled approach to providing housing for our people,” explains Antonio Gutierrez of Casas Del Pueblo CLT in Chicago, a member of the Homes For All Movement. 

Community Land Trusts have been a proven, sustainable and locally controlled way to ensure that people’s homes are prioritized over private profit. Across the country cities and communities are turning to CLT’s as a model for curbing rising rents and evictions.


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May 10, 2016 Category: General Posted by: adetomiadeduro
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