"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."
America's Most Affordable Housing Markets
Jennifer Britt, Detroit Homeowner, Staves Off Eviction With Help of Occupy Detroit
Home price as percentage of income: 152% Median home price: $99,000 Median family income: $65,300
Lansing is the first of five (six, if parts of the South Bend region are included) metropolitan areas located in Michigan to make this list. Home prices in the area are expected to rise by an average of 5.8 percent annually between 2012 and 2017, among the top third projected increases in the country. The median home price is just south of $99,000, or $60,000 less than the median home price in the United States.
Home price as percentage of family income: 152% Median home price: $108,000 Median family income: $70,900
The median home price in Appleton of $108,000 is higher than any metro area on this list, but it is still well below the U.S. median home price of $159,000. Home prices have consistently been cheap in the area for years. The median price between 2007 and 2012 only declined by 4.9 percent, far less than the national drop of 33.3 percent.
Home price as percentage of family income: 150% Median home price: $79,000 Median family income: $52,300
The median family income in Battle Creek of $52,300 is the 23rd lowest among all metro areas surveyed. But with home prices the third cheapest of all metro areas, buying a home is quite affordable. Home prices were relatively cheap before the economic downturn, too. Prices fell by 16.1 percent from their peak in the second quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2012, a far more modest decline than the nationwide home price drop of about 33 percent.
Home price as % of family income: 150% Median home price: $80,000 Median family income: $53,300
Homes in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area are affordable, even for those with modest incomes. While median family income in the region is $9,600 lower than the national median income, median home prices are even lower — the fifth lowest in the country.
Home price as percentage of family income: 139% Median home price: $79,000 Median family income: $56,900
Memphis is the only metropolitan area on this list not located in the Midwest. While home prices of $79,000 are the third lowest of all metropolitan areas measured, home prices are expected to rise at an annual rate of 6 percent between 2012 and 2017, more than 2 percentage points more than the national median. Home prices are expected to rise 8.6 percent next year alone, one of the biggest growth rates in the country.
Home price as percentage of family income: 133% Median home price: $95,000 Median family income: $71,600
In the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills metro area, the combined factors of high income and low home prices can make paying for a house easy. The median family income of $71,600 is the highest on this list and nearly $20,000 higher than the nearby Detroit metro. Furthermore, the median home price of $95,000, which has fallen 40.9 percent since it reached its peak in the second quarter of 2005, means that homes have become a bargain for those who can afford to buy one in this shaky economy.
Home price as percentage of family income: 132% Median home price: $80,000 Median family income: $60,000
Median home prices in Rockford are only expected to rise by 2.4 percent in 2013, less than the 5 percent price increase expected nationally. However, between 2012 and 2017, home prices are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 4.2 percent, besting the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent.
Home price as percentage of family income: 121% Median home price: $69,000 Median family income: $57,300
The median monthly mortgage payment for a house in South Bend is only 5.52 percent of the median monthly income. This is the only metro area in the United States, besides Detroit, where mortgage payments are less than 6 percent of median income.
Home price as percentage of family income: 79% Median home price: $41,000 Median family income: $51,900
While home prices were already cheap in Detroit before the housing downturn, they became even cheaper after. Home prices between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2012 fell a whopping 53.7 percent, or 14.3 percent annually — the 10th-largest drop of all metro areas surveyed. With a median home price that is $28,000 lower than any other metro area reviewed, a median mortgage payment is only 3.6 percent of monthly income.