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.