Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Michele Swan's Bold Fight for Her Family's Home

A quick rundown and update on the #Justice4Michele campaign:

In 2012, Michele Swan of 1012 Grace Marie Ln, in Ellenwood, GA, signed an uncontested divorce agreement, approved by a judge in Henry County; this agreement, which is still valid, and in-hand, specifically stipulated that Ms. Swan, not her now ex-husband, would be given the rights to the family home at the aforementioned address. She thereby inherited the remaining note on the property, which at the time amounted to $140K. Over the 2 years since the divorce, Michele repeatedly & unsuccessfully attempted to speak with Chase Bank, the mortgage holder, in order to have the note transferred into her name. She was fully equipped & capable of making the payments, the family having hitherto made all payments punctually, often in excess of the monthly amounts owed. Chase ignored Ms. Swan completely, stating that they would only speak with her ex-husband, who was equally unresponsive. The situation culminated in Chase moving ahead with foreclosure, in spite of Ms. Swan’s ability to pay, persistence in attempting to do so, and legal right to the note, on Nov. 4, 2014. It was sold at courthouse auction to American Residential Properties (ARP), an investment group based in Scottsdale AZ, at a price of $121K.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Ms. Swan and her 3 children were forcibly evicted from the home in mid-December. After she spoke with WRI, a property management group affiliated with ARP, she was assured that for the interim, she could send them a check in the amount of $2K, in order to effectively rent her own home from them. She sent a cashier’s check (from Chase, no less), and retook residence. It was returned 2 days later; WRI did not acknowledge it, or respond to Ms. Swan thereafter. At that point, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) & friends stepped in; we held a press conference on her behalf on Jan. 5, 2015, which was attended by GA State Senator Fort (D), who made a statement on Ms. Swan’s behalf. From that moment, we made a number of efforts to identify and contact those responsible for the eviction, not to accuse, but to foster an engagement between Ms. Swan and the investment group, so that she might purchase her family home of 11 years from them after the illegal foreclosure occurred. WRI initially acknowledged association with the property, & directed us to speak with ARP in Scottsdale. A paralegal with ARP assured us we would receive further info that day. This did not occur. As a result, a group of activists, headed by Jackie Rodriguez of OOHA, together with Ms. Swan, went to the Buckhead office of WRI, armed with a petition of over 2,600 signatures demanding a negotiation. WRI feigned complete ignorance, and claimed to have no further association with the property. They suggested we contact the “owners,” & again, we spoke with a Senior Paralegal with ARP in Scottsdale, who stated that they had “legal, valid title to the property,” which they intended to enforce. She suggested Ms. Swan use her attorney (something many private citizens do not have) to speak with her ex-husband, & indicated that they had no interest in negotiation with Ms. Swan, because they were not selling; they were “in the business of leasing homes.” This struck us as odd, because this very home is now listed as active on MLS at a price of $190K.

Ms. Swan came home today to find all the locks changed, and the garage jammed. She was able to gain access nonetheless, and she will remain, with the support of OOHA, indefinitely. Spread the word. Bring ARP (@amresprop on twitter) to the table, let them have their money back, and let Michele and her family have their home back. That is all anyone is asking for. #Justice4Michele

Jim Chambers
Guest Writer/Activist
Owner of Henry & June Atlanta

1 comment:

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