October 29, 2014


Joyce lives on Mettetal Street with her children and their children. Here is her story about their life and their house.

This property used to be a duplex, so it went up for auction twice. We won both properties for just under $4,000.

babySo I’ve owned the house since 1997. In 2006 there was a fire in the home. And I became disabled in 2001 from a car accident. So that way I didn’t have any income comin in. My taxes got behind when I had no income. So I started paying my taxes back in 2003 and I caught up in 2006.

I got on a payment plan in 2009 and I been paying on it ever since. You pay so much toward the back taxes, but what happens it is still accrues interest. And so that’s the problem, 18% interest And it just keeps going up each year you’re behind.

Meanwhile I still have all this money I have to put out for the flood damage, these fees. I’m waiting to do that before I see if I keep the house.

I think that the real reason how I got in this situation is because of my health. When your health go bad and you don’t have any income for several years, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. If you have no income there are no exemptions. I’m still disabled on my right side. My foot is really twisted, that’s the purpose of me wearing the brace. I never got anything out of the car accident, my family and friends had to assist me. The doctors kept saying wasn’t anything wrong with me, but I fall all the time and finally they admitted in January 2014 that my foot is twisted. There was insurance on the car accident but my medical bills took away all the funds. I was waiting for social security to kick in and they didn’t give me any of the back money. That’s why I had no income for so long.

The system is set up for whatever it’s set up for. Its not for the people.

This will make us homeless as well as my family. Homeless. And that’s the problem. You can’t really get the help when you need it. We only have 1 income, which is my income, which is for my disability. It’s not that you don’t want to pay but when they start make it so they want you to pay higher interest. You have all the back taxes and plus interest. How will you ever catch up?


So the fire was here in 2006. The fire was on the interior, someone broke in I guess, I wasn’t there at the time. The insurance company paid for the fire Escro and everything to the city of Detroit. But some kinda way, the money disappeared, I never got any of it. So I had to have family and love ones come in and assist me to take care of the house.

They break in a lot over here. That’s why I have my windows boarded up even though there’s glass there, cause that’s the way they come in. And I’m kinda sickly so, people in the neighborhood break in.

It’s like your’e working against yourself you know you got neighbors or people, who knows where they come from? Breaking in the house and vandalizing and stuff. You go to the police station, you don’t get any help there. People steal your garbage can, hot water tank. I mean there’s a lot of things that’ve happened. It’s just a difficult task.

Then we had the flood and stuff, you know. The basement and stuff flooded. Now the furnaces are messed up so I’m trying to work that out too. It’s just a lot of things. What can you do?

In this house its me, my son-in-law, my daughter Eve, and baby Eve which is 2 years old, my son, and his daughter, she’s 6 years old. I’m disabled, my daughter has epilepsy, her husband is legally blind, and then they have a child.


I purchased this house in 1997. When it came to the fire, I did a short payoff for both of the properties from Ameriquest. Then when we had the fire, the insurance company said “we don’t want to deal with this property so we’ll do a short payoff.” That’s when we received the deed.

Meanwhile someone was doing something, I believe at the city level, and that’s when my number got twisted- from two parcels to three. I believe that is illegal. Since the beginning when I first owned this house it was already getting messed up but I didn’t know it. I have all my paperwork. I contact Lansing, they said “Detroit takes care of all of that.” So I contact Wayne County, I goes right back to Detroit, but Detroit, they’re not doing their jobs. Something’s wrong with the assessment department in the city of Detroit.

Even without the parcel problems the assessment is not for what the property is worth. When the house was in the fire, they did not reassess. How can you say the house is worth $30,000 when its burnt down on the inside? I had to pay to fix the house and also pay taxes for a property value that was not true.

Things are already tough but once your health goes bad you are really caught up in a ball of confusion. We all live here together but when things happen everybody have to separate.

We do what we do until we can do better.


To read more stories of families on the front lines of foreclosure, visit the testimonials page.

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