By Dianne Mathiowetz
Published May 10, 2012 9:56 PM
“Nightmare on Wellhaun Road” is how 62-year-old Christine Frazer describes May 2 events, when dozens of DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies surrounded her home at 3 a.m.
The family, including her 85-year-old mother, Daisy Fields; Frazer’s daughter, Rasheeda; and her 3-year-old son were roused from their sleep by armed men beating on their door and ordering them to evacuate. Was there some sort of emergency? Was the family in danger? No. The army of uniformed police came to carry out an eviction.
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown — who is up for re-election this fall — oversaw the drug-style raid, with 40 deputies and SWAT teams. Animal Control officers impounded the family’s pet dogs. An unidentified eviction company’s crew took more than six hours to dump the three-bedroom house’s contents onto the curb, scattering clothing, food, furniture, family photos and toys all over the lawn.
Squad cars blocked the entrance to the street, preventing Occupy Atlanta supporters from assisting the family. Friends and family members could only stand with the Frazers when television crews arrived hours later.
What prompted such an unprecedented action by the sheriff’s department? Evictions are usually conducted by marshals, who provide advance notice of an eviction so occupants can pack up their belongings and make housing arrangements. Brown cited Occupy Atlanta’s presence as the reason for the stealth raid and the need for a massive force to “prevent violence.” For months, members of Occupy Atlanta had set up tents in the Frazer’s front yard and had been working with them and other community members to address the foreclosure problem. At least four other homes on the block were already boarded up.
Frazer’s story is all too similar to that of thousands of people in DeKalb County who were victims of predatory lending, subprime mortgages, lack of affordable health care and unemployment. Atlanta consistently ranks among the top five cities for the number of recorded monthly foreclosures.
The Frazers bought their home on a wooded, dead-end street in south DeKalb County in 1994. They were then the parents of two children and small business owners. Their family’s fortunes took a turn when Frazer’s spouse had multiple surgeries, finally losing both legs at the knees. They refinanced in 2001. He died in 2002. The next year, Frazer’s mother came to live with her. Frazer tried valiantly to keep up the businesses but without her spouse and with the economic downturn, she eventually lost them.
Frazer next got a job with a big pest extermination company, but in 2009, she was fired for being one minute late, even though she had called her supervisor to report car problems. Since then, she hasn’t found steady work and so fell behind on her mortgage payments. She sought a mortgage reduction plan, but her mortgage was sold and resold several times. Investors One Corporation, located in White Plains, N.Y., claims to have the title to 3662 Wellhaun Rd. and has filed for eviction.
Yet, a DeKalb County judge signed the dispossession notice despite a pending federal lawsuit challenging the legality of Investors One Corporation’s paper title.
In addition to Occupy Atlanta, civil rights and community groups and individuals, including former Rep. Cynthia McKinney are supporting the Frazer family’s efforts to regain possession of their home. (See occupyatlanta.org)
Frazer explains, “This is where my daughter grew up, the house where my husband and I worked to raise our family, where he passed. The only home my grandson has ever known. This is our home, and I am going to fight to get it back.”
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