By Mandi Woodruff
Neighbors and activists have rallied around a Detroit woman on the brink of eviction.
Jennifer Britt's supporters are literally guarding the house day and night to ward off the county sheriff and dumptrucks sent to empty out her family's belongings.
"That's why I'm still here today," Britt told Business Insider. "I'm sure if I hadn't gotten the support I've gotten they would have succeeded in evicting me by now."
Britt's story earned the sympathy of her community after her attempts to negotiate her mortgage for years after the death of her husband were rejected for apparently bureaucratic reasons.
When Britt inherited the mortgage, which was held by Flagstar Bank at the time, she managed to just dodge foreclosure by covering $26,000 in back payments with her late husband's life insurance policy. When she approached Flagstar about modifying her $1,550 monthly payments, however, they allegedly refused to discuss details with her at all because her name wasn't on their account.
"The terrible thing about Jennifer's case is that most people who go through this, they've at least talked to the bank," said Joe McGuire, a member of consumer activist group Occupy Detroit and Britt's legal counsel. "For Jennifer, the bank stonewalled her from the beginning. She paid all this money and she hasn't even gotten to the table with them."
A Flagstar representative said on Monday that they aren't commenting on Britt's case.
By 2009, Britt's loan payments had been upped to nearly $2,000. She drained her savings, pouring upwards of $45,000 into the bank's coffers until she eventually ran out in 2009. Fannie Mae purchased the loan from Flagstar in 2010 and foreclosed on Britt soon after. Last month's eviction order was all but inevitable, and Occupy Detroit readied Britt and her neighbors for a fight.
Playing the Waiting Game
From 9 a.m to 6 p.m., volunteers, activists and neighbors huddle outside Britt's home, shooting the wind and swapping stories while they watch out for signs of dump trucks hired to haul Britt's belongings out of the house.
The plan, McGuire said, is to use a few cars to block the street if any trucks stop by.
"My neighbors are in charge of me over the weekend," Britt said. "They just go about their day and drive by to make sure everything's fine. They all have jobs, too, but they come before or after or on their lunch break. They're wonderful people."
Though the court has yet to tell McGuire or Britt whether Fannie Mae plans to back down, they suspect her home has been removed from the county's list of evictions. It's a good sign, McGuire said, but at this point, it's still very much a waiting game. A request for comment was not returned by Fannie Mae.
"At this point, it seems like the bank is internally deciding what it's going to do," McGuire said. "We're at this weird limbo stage."
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By Mandi Woodruff