Take Back the Land Rochester held an eviction home defense for Elizabeth McGriff on Sept. 2, which organization officials said held off an eviction from MidFirst Bank on Wednesday.
According to Ryan Acuff, Take Back The Land organizer, about 50 people participated in the rally, which has temporarily allowed McGriff to stay in her home of 14 years.
“The Monroe County sheriffs were scheduled to come at noon today, and we had a rally at 11:30 a.m.,” Acuff stated. “And, it appears, because of the rally and public pressure, that they called off the eviction. I talked with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office, so, in the short term, this was a victory. We had about 45 to 50 people out there, and we’re going to try to get a permanent solution. The eviction is called off, for now. But, we need to find a permanent solution, so she can get her house back. We’re trying to change the policies, so people don’t get into this situation in the first place.”
According to Acuff, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) policies have created unnecessary displacement, and crises for families, across the country, which, largely and unfairly, target black and Hispanic communities.
As a result of these policies, Acuff stated, although McGriff originally purchased her home for $53,000; MidFirst Bank has offered to sell her the house back for $129000, which FHA regulations allow.
“As of 2013, almost 50 percent of black and Latino loans are through FHA,” he said. “They’re specifically targeting people of color, making it difficult for them to negotiate these mortgages. So, we’re going to negotiate the policies, which are the next steps with Elizabeth.”
In addition, according to Acuff, another city resident, Joseph Woods, is in a situation similar to McGriff’s, also with MidFirst Bank.
“Joseph woods got evicted in June, and we supported him to move back into his house in July,” Acuff stated. “He moved back into his house, without permission, in July. So, right now, he’s back in. We’re trying to raise a lot of awareness about his situation as well. Right now, he’s there, and we’re trying to negotiate these two situations together.”
Ultimately, according to Acuff, Take Back the Land has had more successes with helping city residents stay in their homes than not, and he said the organization plans to continue raising awareness about the issue.
“Actually, we’ve made a lot of progress, in the sense that; we’ve raised a lot of awareness in almost every situation,” he stated. “When a homeowner has stood up; the banks have stood down. So, it’s very empowering for people in the community. I think we’ve made a lot of progress. I think there’re very few people who would say that we don’t have a housing problem in Rochester. We need to make deep, structural changes, and that’s really the next step.”
MidFirst Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the matter.