By Staff –
Take Back the Land Rochester held a rally on Aug. 8, in a continued effort to keep Rochester resident Elizabeth McGriff from being evicted from her home on Cedarwood Terrace.
McGriff was evicted from her home, along with her son, in early 2016, after failing to keep up with her mortgage payments when she lost her job in 2008.
She then moved back in, and began a re-occupation of the home late last year, while attempting to re-negotiate her mortgage with MidFirst Bank.
No longer unemployed, McGriff has recently begun working as a case worker with Monroe County’s department of Child Protective Services.
However, according to TBTL organizer Julie Gelfand, the overall cost to re-purchase the home still remains too high for McGriff, and negotiations with the bank have recently fallen through.
McGriff initially bought the house for $56,000, and it is currently assessed at $73,000. However, according to TBTL, the only deal MidFirst has offered is to sell it back to McGriff for $129,000, or double its assessed value.
As a result, McGriff received an eviction notice from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 1.
“Well, Liz received an eviction notice about a week ago, and the eviction notice said that she needed to be out of the house by 10 a.m. this morning, or, in the sheriff’s words, he would be compelled to break down the door, and remove her and her belongings,” Gelfand stated. “So, that means that, at this point, since Liz is still living in the house, the sheriff could at any time remove her and her belongings from the house. …We hope that doesn’t happen.”
According to Gelfand, McGriff’s supporters are currently house-sitting at the home, whenever they are needed, in order to deter the sheriff’s office from going through with the eviction.
If nothing else, TBTL hopes to shine a light on McGriff’s situation.
“We’re hoping, by shining a light on her situation, to say that, ‘It’s time to be nice guys,’ something they [MidFirst Bank] haven’t done a very good job of doing so far,” Gelfand said.
McGriff is hoping to convince MidFirst Bank to allow Rochester’s first community land trust, City Roots Community Land Trust, to purchase the home, at which point McGriff would then repurchase her home from the organization at a more affordable rate.
“City Roots Community Land Trust, they have already received approval of a loan and financing to purchase the house from Midfirst Bank, at which point they would make an arrangement with Liz for her to then buy the house from them,” Gelfand stated. “Liz would be in the house, she would own the house, but the land would be owned by the land trust. The land trust would then control the pricing on that house in future years. …So, there’re a number of things going on here. Liz is trying to get Midfirst to work with her, but she’s also trying to bring about a change in how home ownership works.”
City Roots CLT was established in 2016, and its mission is to “permanently preserve housing affordability in Rochester, N.Y. through community owned and managed land, to empower neighbors, and to bridge socioeconomic divisions” by establishing and promoting “permanently-affordable, quality housing in Rochester,” the group’s website stated.
In addition, according to the National Community Land Trust Network, a community land trust is a “form of community-led housing, in which local organizations – set up and run by ordinary people – develop and manage homes as well as other assets.”
McGriff’s home would be the first one purchased by the Rochester CLT, should the group’s negotiations with MidFirst Bank be successful.
Until then, according to Gelfand, McGriff’s primary concern is to remain employed.
“Liz’s primary concern is to stay employed,” Gelfand stated. “She wants to stay at her job, and she is aware that she is working for the county. So, she will decide at some point, if and when it becomes necessary, how to move forward.”
MidFirst Bank was not immediately available for comment regarding the matter.