Occupy group helping disabled Inkster man fight off foreclosure

From the Detroit Free Press:


By Tammy Stables Battaglia
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Jerome Jackson, who was paralyzed from the waist down at age 14, says he’s fighting back against a foreclosure that threatens to remove him from his specially built Inkster home.

He has support in that quest. Volunteers from Occupy Detroit and the nonprofit People Before Banks plan to picket outside 22nd District Court in Inkster when an eviction hearing with Fannie Mae takes place at 2 p.m. today.

“This house was built for me,” Jackson, 57, said Wednesday. “When I first moved to this house, there was nothing but a foundation. They widened the doors. They made it accessible with the ramps. I put a lot of my own money into the house. And I think it would be really unjust to foreclose on me and put me out of this house.”

Jackson said the wheelchair-accessible home on Harriet near Middlebelt and Michigan Avenue was built for him in 2004, and he got a conventional mortgage for it.

Jackson, paralyzed when he was shot during a dispute with another student, receives about $600 a month in Social Security income.

He said he secured the bank funding with the promise of a mortgage subsidy by Community Living Services based in Wayne. Funded by Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, CLS provides support and programming for about 4,000 adults and children in Wayne and Oakland counties.

But Jackson said he later learned CLS got the funding by inaccurately classifying him as developmentally disabled and not physically disabled. In 2009, the agency cut the subsidy, and the foreclosure process began.

“All I can say at this point, 2004 was the height of predatory lending and mortgages were flying everywhere prior to the housing crisis/collapse,” said Jackson’s lawyer, Robert Bay of Legal Aid. “My guess is this is all part of that. It was a very strange setup, and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Jackson’s income was listed as $4,000 a month on his loan application, completed with the blessing of CLS, Bay said.

“The idea of throwing him out of his home because the lender and CLS were involved in these sorts of shenanigans in 2004 is not right,” Bay said. The Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency referred calls to the state Department of Mental Health. Spokeswoman Mary Manzur said Wednesday she was not familiar with the case. A call to the lawyer listed in court records as representing Fannie Mae in Jackson’s case did not return a call Wednesday.

CLS spokeswoman Tiffany Devon said the agency can’t discuss Jackson’s case because it would violate federal medical privacy laws. But she said the agency referred him to the nonprofit Community Housing Network.

Jackson said that organization offered to help him move into a one-bedroom apartment or turn his home into a group home.

More Details: Protest today

Picketers are to demonstrate during a 2 p.m. eviction hearing today outside 22nd District Court in Inkster, 27331 S. River Park Drive. The picket will be led by Occupy Detroit’s Eviction Defense Committee.

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