Monday, December 05, 2016

After Participating In Good Faith For Over 14 Years In Gov't-Sponsored, 15-Year Rent-To-Own Program, Low-Income Tenants In Toledo Single-Family Home Development Now Face The Boot & Being Stripped Of Their Rights Over Defunct Developer's Failure To Pay Real Estate Taxes

In Toledo, Ohio, The Toledo Blade reports:
  • When Mary Kay Buford rented a newly built home in Toledo’s central city in 2002 she was signing up for a promise made by the developer — that she could buy that house in 15 years and she would earn $1,000 a year toward the price.

    It was a promise that was backed up by the power of federal, state, and local governments.

    “It was exciting,” she said.

    But last year she got a worrisome letter: Her house was being foreclosed for tax delinquency, and she was being stripped of her “rent-to-own” rights — which come due early next year.

    “I was shocked. Now it’s scary. We could end up homeless, with nothing,” Ms. Buford said, standing in front of her two-story Norwood Avenue house with a porch and picket fence.

    Ms. Buford and other women who rent homes in the Oakwood Homes I & II project, including Samonia Smith and Lakesha Williams, aided by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality,(1) have sued to intervene in the tax foreclosure planned for 43 homes left standing and still occupied from the 80-home project.

    They’re hoping to be able to acquire their dwellings for little or nothing because of the promise that was made, the expenses they’ve undertaken, the conditions of the homes, and the failure of a state agency to monitor the project for problems.

    The original developer, the now-defunct nonprofit Toledo Community Development Corp., built the development with mortgage financing of about $9.3 million, according to the two suits filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, with federal tax credits to lower the risk.
    Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are seeking through their intervention in one of the cases to force the project to live up to the promise that was made — that they could get credit to buy their homes after the 15th year.

    Whether their legal intervention will be accepted is up to Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
    Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are named in the complaint filed by ABLE, a federally funded legal aid agency that provides free representation in civil cases to low-income people. Complaints against the Oakwood Homes I and II foreclosure have also been filed by residents Dawn Autry, Monica Ham, Latoya Pearson, Latoya Broughton, Terri Pope, Darcell Jordan, Ronnita Holyfield, Polly Petoskey, and Charles and Tay Lee.

    Ms. Autry’s pro se complaint accused local officials of conspiring to deprive them of their ownership rights.

    “It reeks of conspiracy and fraud,” said the complaint brought by Ms. Autry.
For more, see Oakwood residents fight to keep homes (Tenants say foreclosure breaks promise).
(1) Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE), along with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO), are non-profit regional law firms that, together, provide legal assistance in civil matters serving eligible low-income individuals and groups in 32 northwest and west central Ohio counties. Their Migrant Farmworker Programs serve all 88 Ohio counties. land contract for deed

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