Gratiot McDougall families celebrate victory after years of facing eviction

After years of fighting to save their homes in the courts and the community, 15 Gratiot McDougall families threatened with eviction by developer Peter Barclae finally won the right to buy their homes.

Barclae had turned his back on the promises he originally made to the families when they moved into their homes in Detroit’s Gratiot-McDougall area. But he finally gave in to years of pressure and agreed to sell all 15 homes to United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), the Detroit non-profit that will sell the homes to the families.

Congrats to all who helped them win

They picketed Barclae’s business properties, joined rallies and fundraisers, and packed city council, court and mayoral meetings. They made phone calls urging Barclae to settle and contributed to UCHC to help them buy the homes. But the real key to victory was the amazing way the families held together through all the pressure, kept the faith, and refused to give up.

Stopping the selling of their homes

Peter Barclae, the Oakland County developer not only refused to make good on his promises, but also tried relentlessly to evict them. He claimed all their payments were for renting. But after he got a Singapore-based company, Midas, to start selling their homes, 40-plus people braved the pouring rain to protest at Midas’ office in Pontiac.

Picketing Midas.

Channel 2 and other media showed up as the group provided Midas evidence of Barclae’s illegal bait-and-switch. Within hours, Midas had removed all the homes from its listings.

Confronting Mayor Duggan at a District 5 Detroit meeting

On September 25, at a District 5 Detroit meeting, a group wearing new T-shirts showing their support for Gratoit -McDougall families got Mayor Duggan’s attention in their crusade to stop the unjust evictions.Detroit had given taxpayer money to Peter Barclae, a failed developer from West Bloomfield, to build affordable homes in the Gratiot McDougall area.

Confronting Mayor Duggan.

The Mayor agreed they got a “raw deal” and says he’ll do whatever is in his power to help them get justice.

Barclae ploys foiled in Court

Barclae kept insisting the $40,000 – $70,000 he’s collected from these homebuyers was only “rent” and they were “tenants.” The homeowners sued to stop this arrogant breach of contract, enforce their right to buy the homes, and save their neighborhood from the blight that will follow if they are evicted.

Supporters joined them at a June 20 hearing where the Judge was so surprised by Barclae’s marketing of homes in dispute that she delayed the company’s demand for escrow.

Subsequently, on July 25 and Sept. 5 the families fought back against bogus motions to evict them so the developer could sell their homes. Each time supporters were there to back them up. Barclae’s various attempts to evict failed in court.

The happy conclusion

In the end,  the Gratiot McDougall families won the right to buy their homes. The determination of the families — and with the support of DED — and their willingness to publicize their stories was key to their success.