Members of area protest group Take Back the Land say there has been little progress in getting the City of Rochester to reexamine its foreclosure and eviction process.
The latest case to draw the group’s ire is that of Eddie and Mary Windom Bey on Bartlett Street in downtown Rochester, who face eviction on the home they have lived in for the past 40 years.
Take Back the Land, in conjunction with Occupy Rochester and other groups, held a protest there on Thursday to draw attention to, as they describe it, as the plight of the homeowners who have been served with an eviction notice by the City Court Marshal due to an “unusual” series of events.
Eddie Windom Bey and Ryan Acuff of Take Back the Land said they met with Darryl Porter, assistant to the mayor, on Thursday regarding the eviction notice. Windom Bey said Porter told him he would seek a 10-day extension for the parties to work matters out.
The city could not be reached for comment by deadline.
The city issued $30,000 in code violations to the Windom Beys as a result of their failure to remove the cars and boats located in the back of their driveway several years ago. But the Windom Beys said they could neither use nor remove the vehicles in the rear portion of their driveway because the city terminated a driveway right of way agreement, allowing the driveway to be fenced in.
The code violation fees amounted to more than the value of the property. The Windom Beys fell behind on their taxes and could not pay for the code violations.
The city then sold the tax lien to Florida-based American Tax Funding, which foreclosed on the home.
In October 2011, the house was auctioned off to an ATF subsidiary in Florida for $7,000. The Windom Beys sued the city in federal district court, but the suit was dismissed in late April by U.S. District Court Judge Charles J. Siragusa.
“Essentially, the city contends that it conveyed the property to plaintiffs, that plaintiffs were responsible for paying the taxes on the property, that plaintiffs failed to pay the taxes and the city foreclosed on the property and sold it in 2011 at a foreclosure sale,” is how Judge Siragusa described the situation in the Windom Bey’s suit.
“These people can’t win,” said Take Back the Land spokeswoman Katherine Denison. “We want the city to work with them rather than make it impossible for them. Rather than contributing to the destruction of the city, we want them to stop acting on this eviction so it can be sorted out.”
Take Back the Land spokesman Ryan Acuff said there is no reason the city “couldn’t put a fraction of the attention into avoiding tax foreclosure for regular families like the Windom Bey family throughout the city,” that they have for the Sibley Building owners who owe the city millions in taxes.