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Group rallies behind woman who lost home of four decades to foreclosure

Feb 3, 2016

Credit Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

A Detroit woman is fighting to win back her home of 40 years.

Wayne County foreclosed on Mary Sanders' home over about $1,200 in unpaid taxes and fees.

The home was purchased for $2,300 in a tax auction last fall by Chris Meyer, a California-based developer who owns CDM Real Estate, Inc., in Ann Arbor.

Sanders says she was unaware she owed outstanding taxes. Sanders, 80, also qualified for tax exemptions based on her age and income that she says she was not informed about.

"Had they handed her that paperwork, we wouldn't be here today," said David Mitchell, an organizer with the Detroit Eviction Defense, a coalition of homeowners, union and community members, and faith-based activists.

The group held a rally today outside of CDM Real Estate to protest the foreclosure and sale of Sanders' home.

Sanders offered to buy back her home for the price Meyer paid to Wayne County, plus any expenses.

Meyer says last month he gave Sanders three options to stay in the home: renting the property at fair market price, purchasing the home for $15,000 cash, or to make payments on an agreed price.

He says at no time has he tried to evict Sanders, and he thinks the price is "more than fair" given that the house is worth at least $50,000.

"You've done nothing to the house, you haven't done any improvements, so the $2,300 sounds more than fair," Mitchell said.

"We don't expect you to take a loss; we want Mary Sanders to own her home," Day said.

Day says he is willing to put up a fight.

"These colonizers and developers who think they can come into Detroit and throw people like Mary Sanders out of their home, or make a profit on her back, we've got to drive them out of Detroit; they've got to go back where they came from," he said.

Tom Ewing, an Ann Arbor real estate broker, says when a bank takes over a house and it sits empty and not maintained, they often lose equity.

"It's not necessarily a 'win' situation for them to foreclose," he said.

Ewing says it is a smarter choice to allow the resident to stay and make payments until the issue is resolved.

"And that's something that appeals to their bottom line," says Ewing.

Day says Sanders has many community members rallying behind her, and they won't stop fighting until she has her house back.

"They won't have to take a loss, but if they think they're going to make some big profit off Mary Sanders, they've got another thing coming," Day said. "It's not happening."