Detroit Senior Cheryl West needs support Fighting Eviction
Organized by: Detroit Eviction Defense
Facing imminent eviction for a tax foreclosure that should never have happened, Cheryl West “is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.” Ms. West, who is 68 years old and living on Social Security, lost the home to tax foreclosure in 2014.
Cheryl was a victim of a system that is broken. After numerous attempts to apply for the help through programs specifically set up for seniors in her position the bureaucratic system rejected her claims. In fact her home should have been exempt from property taxes under these provisions many years ago.
She is organizing an estate sale to raise money to buy her home back from the new owner, who has threatened to evict her as early as Monday. Members of Detroit Eviction Defense are supporting Ms. West if she decides to stick it out and stay in the home where she was raised.
Her case underlines the gross unfairness of the property tax system at every level of government. The city’s inflated assessments drove up her tax bill; the county failed to notify her that she qualified for a poverty exemption; and the state’s Step Forward program denied her support on a technicality— a common occurrence in a program that turns away more than half of all applicants.
Ms. West has struggled to find employment as a music teacher in Detroit’s job-scarce economy, and she has expensive co-pays for medication to treat congestive heart failure and a nerve disorder. Her brother and sister both died in less than a year— her only siblings, leaving her to put their estates in order.
Step Forward Michigan, after losing her paperwork and delaying its decision for months, finally ruled that because she went to Texas to help her sister-in-law after the death of her husband, the home on LaSalle was not her “primary residence” for those months, disqualifying her for a loan to pay her back taxes. “Why are their guidelines so narrow?,” Ms. West asks. “They should be helping more people save their homes. This is ripping my heart out.”
This home has been in her family for over 60 years. Cheryl's family was the first African-American family in the neighborhoood and her father was the first African-American music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. Now that she has kept the home whole all these years, her home and neighborhood are being taken away.