Chances are that you know someone who has suffered from homelessness, whether you realize it or not. Someone at your job, your school, and even in your neighborhood, has no place to lay their heads tonight. Yet, the stigma that is attached to indigent individuals is even more alarming.
The average person believes that homelessness is a result of poor life choices. People actually believe that homeless people are addicts, lazy, and the crud of the earth. While this is the case in many situations, the truth is, homelessness is often the result of circumstances that are beyond that persons control. There are widowers, veterans, seniors, victims of abuse...who suffer from homeless. What's even worse is the stain homelessness can leave on the hearts and minds of those who experience such fate.
In my case, I became homeless after facing an illegal eviction in the city of Detroit. Illegal Eviction is when landlords take measures into their own hands; to self-evict, or remove a person(s) from their property without going through the court system. It is LAW, that the court system must be used in order to remove individuals, and their belongings from the premises, regardless of the circumstances. Any attempt to remove a person from their home, without using the court system is illegal and has penalty under state, or local laws.
My goal is simple: to expose this willful corruption going on in the city of Detroit, and hopefully bring an end to this malicious destruction that has destroyed my life, and the lives of many others. I invite your help by forwarding this information onto your constituents, and/or by reading the below thread and attachments. A Press Release was recently submitted by Lakeshore Legal Aid about this case, and further details can be found in the Third Circuit Court.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Todd Pierce-Ryan, Staff Attorney, Systemic Advocacy Unit
Phone: (313) 242-0811 ext. 1308
ILLEGAL EVICTIONS PLAUGE CITIZENS OF DETROIT – TENANTS FIGHT BACK
Local judge orders landlords to pay over quarter million dollars to former tenant.
Judge Martha Snow of the Third Circuit Court ordered Freedom Property Management and Maurice Adams, Detroit landlords, to pay over $250,000 to Rosey White, a tenant, because the landlords had illegally evicted Ms. White from her apartment.
Rosey White lived in an apartment that Freedom Property Management and Maurice Adams operated. In the time that she lived there, Ms. White saw these property managers illegally evict other tenants – by kicking doors in, by threats, by shutting off utilities, by replacing door locks. After Ms. White insisted on her legal rights in a lease dispute, the property managers began threatening Ms. White. Eventually, the property managers illegally evicted Ms. White and forced her to leave the property – by trespassing into the property, by shutting off utilities, by threats, and by providing false information to Detroit police officers. Ms. White lost everything she owner.
In the court hearing, Ms. White testified as to what it felt like to be homeless for six months – from being homeless for Christmas, to the physical, mental, and emotional struggle of being homeless in winter in Michigan, even to losing irreplaceable photographs of her deceased mother. “To him, I probably was just another, you know, poor tenant. Who cares . . . It changed my life.” At the hearing, Ms. White said: “I did not want to come here today. Every time I tell the story, I relive it.”
Under Michigan law, in order to compel a tenant to leave a property, a landlord must file a lawsuit in court (called an eviction). But that is only the beginning – the landlord must prove up and win the lawsuit and the tenant may fight this. Finally, even after winning the lawsuit, the landlord must get a court order (writ of eviction) to have court officers (bailiffs) remove people and possessions from a rental unit.
The landlord should never compel a tenant to leave a property directly – it must go through the court system, and any removal must be done by court officers. Of course, a tenant can always agree to leave a property voluntarily. But a tenant cannot be forced to leave a property without court process.
Illegal evictions – meaning forcing someone to leave a property without court process – happen all the time in Detroit. Landlords use a variety of illegal means to force tenants to leave rental properties – from kicking doors in, to using physical force, to threats, to shutting off utilities, to changing locks, to putting metal shields on doors and windows. All of these means are illegal and can cause great harm to a tenant. Because of the harm to the tenant, the landlord runs a great risk, as shown by the judgment of over $250,000 in Ms. White’s case.
This is a problem that is far worse in Detroit than in other cities. “I’ve practiced law in Boston and in Chicago, and I’ve spoken with legal services attorneys from across the state and across the country,” said Todd Pierce-Ryan, staff attorney in the systemic advocacy unit at Lakeshore Legal Aid. “Illegal evictions are a far greater problem in Detroit than other places. A landlord that illegally evicts a tenant does it because they think they can get away with it – and they have.”
“That landlord will continue to do it as long as they can. At Lakeshore Legal Aid, we fight to make these landlords pay for the devastating harm they are causing to countless tenants.”
Today, Maurice Adams appears to be still acting as the landlord at this apartment complex – though he may be filing evictions in court more often. Court records show that he has filed four separate eviction actions so far in 2019.
Rosey White is getting back on her feet. But remembering what she went through still brings her to tears. “How do you go look for a job, you don’t have no shoes? It was hell. I, I can’t describe it, no other way. It’s somethin’ that I will never forget.”
The mission of Lakeshore Legal Aid
Standing with our neighbors, Lakeshore Legal Aid fights poverty and injustice through advocacy and by providing meaningful and dignified access to the legal system.