Author: detroite (Page 2 of 13)

Taura Brown, Tiny Homes & Broken Promises

The Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) Tiny Homes program advertised itself as a means for low-income Detroit residents to own a home. Community members believed that they were a part of a rent-to-own program. The program told participants that they would pay $1 per square foot of a tiny home each month. The CCSS website states, “At first, the residents will rent the homes. Anyone who remains for seven years will be given the opportunity to own the home and property.” Taura Brown, resident, and a donor, was stunned to learn that Rev. Faith Fowler, Executive Director, and CCSS would be reneging on their original terms, and she would not be a homeowner. Instead, she was being evicted.

Earlier this year at a meeting with Tiny Homes residents, Rev. Fowler announced that she would be evicting a resident because he had his bike stolen, his home broken into and had a car repossessed. The resident spoke up for himself and Taura backed him up that a resident being robbed is not a cause for eviction. Fowler ended up dropping the eviction of the four-year resident and instead is moving to evict Taura Brown.  Fowler and her lawyer claim they don’t need cause to evict, and they can do whatever they want to the residents. Truth is they are retaliating against Brown because she spoke up, told residents their rights, and opposed Fowler trying to run things like a dictator. Taura and every resident has the right to speak up and join together to defend their interests and their rights.

Brown was diagnosed with stage five kidney disease and, after becoming disabled, began looking for affordable living options. Brown, like other residents, decided to join the program believing that she would eventually own her home. Though she says the program was flawed, they have now gone too far.

Taura has been vocal about her concerns with staff but has seen no effort to make improvements. The Tiny Homes neighborhood has dealt with issues of crime in the neighborhood, invasion of residents’ privacy, fair housing violations, fiscal irresponsibility, and unfair treatment among residents. Before Taura was accepted into the Tiny Home program, she had to be interviewed by all the Tiny Home residents. None of the white residents have had to go through this process. This is just one example of the institutional racism that Fowler is embedding into the program. Taura has never been late with rent, has met all the program requirements, but is facing eviction. This is clear retaliation. 

To date, not a single resident has received a title or land contract that the CCSS program advertised. Reverend Faith Fowler told residents that they are just renters and do not own the property. All residents of the Tiny Homes deserve safe, fair housing, and for CCSS to put in writing that residents will get the deed to their homes after 7 years as promised. This is something common we are seeing in Detroit – developers, non-profits, and opportunistic pastors advertising low-income housing or a program to provide homeownership, but they don’t deliver. They cash in, and create more housing instability. As Taura says, “Faith Fowler is claiming to create opportunities for homeless people, but she clearly has no problem creating homelessness!”

Check out this interview with Taura

Update: Geraldine & the Fight For Her Home

Join Us: Thursday 2pm 7700 2nd Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

Picket is back on! A while back Detroit Eviction Defense put a call up for a picket, and we postponed it while Rev. Ross agreed to come back to the table to negotiate. We were excited to learn that Rev Ross finally agreed to sell Geraldine her home and land back for $14,200 and to complete the promised repairs to the front porch, roof, and back porch, as well as paying the back taxes owed. 

However, after weeks of silence, Geraldine finally heard from the Storehouse of Hope lawyer only to learn that not only had he not drafted an agreement in writing, he didn’t even know a meeting had occurred. Storehouse of Hope’s lawyer is now saying they plan on selling the house to Geraldine (even though Geraldine has still seen no paperwork), but the price may go up if the repairs are more.

These delay tactics are standard practice for Joan Ross. What is alarming is that Ross also threatened more than once to sell the house out from under Geraldine or to evict her when the moratorium is lifted. We are concerned these delays are more than just procedural but Ross has returned to radio silence. 

Join us Thursday, June 10th for a picket of the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust and it’s Director Joan C. Ross. We will be picketing the offices of Storehouse of Hope, Community Radio WNUC and the North End Woodward Community Coalition, which all have the same address. For more information check out our Facebook:

We need to hold Storehouse of Hope and Joan Ross accountable and give Geraldine and her family back her home! 

For those new to this situation here is a summary:…/

Here is Geraldine telling her story:

This failed project is presented as a land trust and a path to home ownership, but not one resident has gained ownership of their home.…

The article above also has revealing quotes from Reverend Ross about this land trust that was funded by community donations.

Reverend Ross states, “This is not a justice situation. This is really, if you want to say it, a tenant-landlord matter.”

She goes on to threaten to evict Geraldine once the CDC moratorium ends, “We can always sell our property to somebody else,” Ross said. “Or wait for the eviction moratorium to be lifted and go that route.”

We invite anyone involved in community work in the North End, or anyone connected to Storehouse of Hope to attend the picket, talk with Geraldine, her neighbors and supporters.

The Trust between Ross who owns the Land has been broken with the Community. Give the Land back to Geraldine who is Trusted by the Community.

Cease & Desist Letter From Joan Ross and Storehouse of Hope

Geraldine Smith-Bey came to Detroit Eviction Defense asking if we could help her secure title to the home she has been living in for almost 20 years. Located on the east side of Detroit in the East Village, part of “Islandview and the Greater Villages,” the home originally belonged to Geraldine’s grandmother, who passed it down to her mother and then to her. However, due to over-taxation, in 2015 Geraldine lost the house to the city for only $1,211. Storehouse of Hope bought the house to be part of a community land trust and offered to allow Geraldine and her sons to continue living there. She would pay a minimal rent and, with their help, she’d be able to own the home down the road. She said her relationship with the organization had deteriorated and back taxes on her home now stand at almost $3,000. The city has placed a notice of foreclosure on her home. Major repairs have also not been completed, leaving the house in a dangerous condition.

Detroit Eviction Defense’s understanding of this situation

We support Black homeownership, and note that this is particularly important when it involves the generational ties such as in Geraldine Smith-Bey’s case. Therefore we were encouraged when a mediation meeting was set up earlier this month, and agreed to send a representative. When the meeting was called off by Joan Ross the day before, we saw that as a setback. DED had previously attempted to contact Storehouse of Hope and when our calls and emails went unanswered, sent Rev. Joan Ross, director of the organization, a registered letter.

On February 11 we received an email from an attorney who calls on DED to “cease and desist,” this letter is below. We still believe the way to resolve this problem is for Storehouse of Hope to provide Geraldine Smith-Bey with the deed to her home.


Keep Geraldine in her Home

Summary & Demand

Geraldine owned her home from 2003 to 2015. It was bought in 2015 by the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust from the Tax Auction. Storehouse of Hope, run by Reverend Joan C. Ross has not paid the property taxes or completed promised repairs. Unless something is done the house will be sold in the 2021 tax auction.  The Storehouse of Hope failed to function as a Community Land Trust and should return the home to Geraldine. 

Geraldine’s is just one story as part of the massive wave of tax foreclosures that displaced people and opened up Detroit to further speculation and slumlords. Wayne County failed by foreclosing on Geraldine. The Detroit Land Bank failed by selling the property for $1,211 rather than handing it back to Geraldine.

What Geraldine wants is simple. Storehouse of Hope needs to deed the home to Geraldine at no cost to her.  Wayne County and the Land Bank need to help make this happen and wipe the back taxes owed by Storehouse of Hope. Storehouse of Hope must also compensate Geraldine for the major repairs they have failed to do. This won’t make up for all of the failures at every level but it will Keep Geraldine in her home. 


Geraldine has been in her home on Fischer st in Detroit since 2003. Like many Black families in Detroit, her home was passed down intergenerationally. Her grandmother had owned the home, and her mom left her the home before she passed away in 2004. Geraldine took pride in her house, and raised her 3 sons here. In 2009, she fell on hard times and got behind on property taxes. Geraldine took steps to try to stay in her home, including getting into a payment plan. As many people know, a lot of those payment plans are made to fail, and countless Detroit homes were over taxed. 

Geraldine’s home went into tax foreclosure and was lost to the Detroit Land Bank in 2015. The land bank sold her home to the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust (CLT) for $1,211.  The land trust bought properties from the Land Bank that year with 13 of the properties costing a total of $75,213 (there may be two additional properties that they bought that year).

The Storehouse of Hope CLT contacted Geraldine, letting her know they had bought her property.  Initially this seemed to be very positive, Storehouse of Hope promised to keep her in her home as part of a new Community Land Trust Program. Storehouse of Hope’s program stated:

 “one to three years, families will pay rent equal to one-third of their incomes, while Storehouse of Hope assumes the cost of repairs, property taxes, insurance, and water bills. Storehouse of Hope will help members interested in repurchasing their homes develop stronger credit so they can obtain mortgages.

This program is not how community land trusts generally function. People are not tenants who are paying rent in CLTs, they normally own the deed to their home. It is the land that is held by the trust. That allows more flexibility and building of generational wealth.

Geraldine’s initial optimism about the program did not last long. She served as a representative of the families on the Storehouse of Hope governing board. Storehouse of Hope explains:

“each participating family whose home is secured through the land trust will also make a commitment to playing an active role in Detroit’s housing rights movement and the #Homes4All Campaign.

After Geraldine raised concerns about repair issues and how Grant money was being used, the board was dismantled and her questions unanswered.

Storehouse of Hope has refused to do basic and vital maintenance to the property, leaving Geraldine to make the repairs herself. They promised to allow her to purchase back her home, which has never happened. In the past year they have stopped paying the water bill, though they had agreed to. The Storehouse of Hope has not paid the taxes and are about to lose the home to tax foreclosure. Geraldine is again, in jeopardy of losing her home. 

Storehouse of Hope’s website describes that it purchased 15 houses from the 2015 auction, but it is difficult to find information and a clear picture of the current situation. The phone number listed on their website goes to voicemail and has been unreachable, and their most recent updates are from 2017. Out of the three blog posts on their website, two of the posts have the same date of December 27, 2018 and have conflicting information. One post that “five of the families out of the 15 homes purchased choose not to remain,” and another post with the same date claims, “today, we own 15 properties of these 8 are currently occupied.” We could find 13 homes that Storehouse of Hope bought in the auction. According to Landgrid’s website (that was updated last March), 12 out of 13 houses that Storehouse of Hope bought were delinquent for their 2019 property taxes, and many of the houses were also delinquent in 2017 and 2018. Landgrid shows that the one home that was not behind on their taxes was sold to Indumich Realty LLC, which is a company that has been to court over its speculative and slumlord practices.

The housing crisis in Detroit has been overwhelming for residents and for housing advocates and activists. Activists and advocacy groups are not perfect and will make mistakes; but it is essential that these groups are transparent, own their mistakes, and learn from them. Activists and housing advocates should not perpetuate dishonesty and  displacement. We are calling for full transparency and for the promises that Storehouse of Hope made to Geraldine and all of the families to be fulfilled. 




Background: Storehouse of Hope Website

2016 –

2017 –

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