Detroit faces 37,000 tax foreclosures of occupied homes in 2015
Coalition calls for Wayne County Moratorium on Tax Foreclosures
Drop the charges against Alonzo Long, Jr., facing life in prison for defending family members against armed intrusion of home by auction winners
DETROIT –The case of Alonzo Long, Jr., 22, charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of armed “landlord” home intruders, has broad implications for homeowners and occupants of all ages everywhere. The second part of Long’s preliminary exam will be held Friday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. before 36th District Court Judge Ruth Carter.
As the New Year of 2015 rings in, the Detroit-Why Don’t We Own This website declares 62,000 Detroit properties are up for tax foreclosure, with 37,000 thought to be occupied. The Wayne County Treasurer’s Office earlier told an attorney with Moratorium on Foreclosures, Evictions, and Shut-offs NOW! that their office will not declare a moratorium on these foreclosures, many of which are legally suspect.
A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the home foreclosure crisis is directly tied to an increase in the national suicide rate.
“Our results suggest that the foreclosure crisis significantly contributed to the increase in suicides in the Great Recession,” said their report, titled The Home Foreclosure Crisis and Rising Suicide Rates, 2005 to 2010, published in April, 2014. “Importantly, the effects of foreclosures on suicides were strongest among middle-aged adults, especially those aged 46 to 64 years, helping to explain the recent rise in middle-aged suicide.”
In addition, the report says, neighbors who lived near foreclosed homes showed significant increases in their blood pressure rates.
According to testimony at the first part of Long’s preliminary exam Dec. 17, he acted in defense of his family members against Howard Franklin, 72, and Catherine Franklin, 37, in the incident Nov. 28. The elder Franklin had purchased the home at the October tax auction, with the deed going into his name Nov. 10.
The home was occupied by a grandson of Willie and Margaret Fletcher, an elderly couple who had title to the home before it was foreclosed. The grandson and others were moving his possessions out of the home when Howard and Catherine Franklin showed up, “brandishing guns,” according to conversation overheard by their employees in a subsequent confrontation.
Howard Franklin did not follow the law by first going to 36th District Court’s landlord-tenant division and filing for eviction, a mandatory process with notice to occupants that, if successful, is carried out only by Wayne County bailiffs. The Franklins had no right even to enter the premises without permission of the occupants, according to the treasurer’s bidding requirements.
During the confrontation, the employees, who had run outside, said they heard remarks from inside including, “The police gave us more time,” and “Now you’re brandishing guns.” That’s when the three women and one man moving the possessions called for help from Long, Jr., who was sitting outside the home in a car in the driveway. One of the women was wounded, likely by one of the Franklins.
The employees testified they knew both Franklins were armed. One said Catherine Franklin was holding a gun when she fell out of the front door, fatally wounded. They testified they saw Long, Jr. enter the home with a gun held “straight-arm” down at his side, pointing downwards, after the call for help from inside, and then saw and heard gunshot flashes and sounds.
Although the subsequent deaths of the Franklins are tragic, especially for their family members, they had broken the law by trying to carry out an eviction themselves, entering the premises with guns. The Wayne County Treasurer’s office does not give winning auction bidders instructions on how to deal with occupied properties at 36th District Court.
To avoid future catastrophic consequences of the foreclosure tide, including suicides and the devastation of neighborhoods throughout Detroit and Wayne County, Mike Shane of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition said they are calling on Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz to declare a moratorium on tax foreclosures in 2015.
Meanwhile, a Detroit youth who was defending his family from the illegal actions which resulted from one of these foreclosures, faces life in prison.
Shane said they are also calling for charges against him to be dismissed on the basis of self-defense and defense of others. They and other community activists plan to be in 36th District Court to support the young man Friday, Jan. 2, at 1 p.m.
DISMISS THE CHARGES VS. ALONZO LONG, JR.! CALL AN EMERGENCY MORATORIUM ON TAX FORECLOSURES IN WAYNE COUNTY!