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Linda Taylor purchased a two-bedroom house in Minneapolis in 2004. However, she was forced to sell it back to the previous owner after falling behind on payments. She thought she’d been scammed into purchasing the house.

Atlanta Black Star’s recent article entitled “‘I’m Not Going Anywhere Now’: Minneapolis Residents Band Together to Help Elderly Woman Facing Eviction After 18 Years” reports that it turned out that Taylor’s first landlord was involved in a mortgage scheme. In 2006, her current landlord, Greg Berendt, bought the house Taylor has made her home for the last 18 years. However, the owner let her to stay as a tenant.

The 71-year-old Taylor bought all of the appliances to suit her needs. She has a garden and keeps a free library on the front lawn. Taylor also visits with others in the community and she was known for volunteering to help others in the neighborhood.

“They call me the mayor,” Taylor joked.

In January, Taylor felt “her life had been pulled from under her.” She had received a letter from Berendt saying she had two months to move. Berendt wanted to sell the home and gave her three options. She could buy the home for $299,000, leave, or get evicted. Taylor had lost her nonprofit job during the pandemic and was relying on rental assistance programs, her savings and family support to cover her monthly payments. Berendt had also raised her rent twice over the last two years.

“My house means everything to me,” Taylor said. “I could not sleep, I could not eat. I felt really defeated.”

Taylor had tried different ways to purchase the home, but she always “ran into a ton of different walls.” A conversation with a neighbor turned things around. The great-grandmother of three confided in Andrew Fahlstrom, a professional housing rights organizer who lived across the street. He quickly pulled support from others in the community.

“People listened to what Miss Linda was saying and wanted to do something,” Fahlstrom said. “It was just such a clear and compelling story that everyone rallied for her.”

Her new support group of 400 neighbors sent a letter to Berendt asking him to delay the eviction and compromise with Taylor. A neighbor also wrote a column in a local paper pointing out that Taylor had paid $200,000 in rent and maintained the property, and she shouldn’t be forced to move.

Berendt gave in, extended the move-out deadline to June 30 and dropped the sale price to $250,000.

“The neighborhood’s being proactive in what they’re trying to achieve here, and I give them kudos for that,” Berendt said. “We’re not trying to cause any issues… We’re willing to work with her in any way we can for her to purchase the home. I’d like to see the home go to her.”

The neighbors threw a block party, hosted an art show and launched a social media campaign to raise the money. A local church donated $200,000. The group secured $20,000 from other donors online.

“When that came through, my faith grew bigger than a mountain,” Taylor said.

They raised enough for Taylor to close on her home by May 31, do repairs and put down on utilities.

“I’m not going anywhere now,” Taylor said. “It’s saying a lot about my neighbors and a lot about my community. Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

The neighborhood will celebrate Taylor’s victory at a block party this summer.

Reference: Atlanta Black Star (June 26, 2022) “‘I’m Not Going Anywhere Now’: Minneapolis Residents Band Together to Help Elderly Woman Facing Eviction After 18 Years”

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