Man fighting eviction gets evicted
David Andreatta, Staff writer
A Rochester man who had threatened to chain himself to a 1,200-pound drum of concrete to avoid eviction from his 19th Ward home was removed without incident early Wednesday by the city marshal and police.
George Douglass said he did not have time to carry out his plan of protest. City officials arrived around 9 a.m. and removed the drum with a front-end loader. By midday, the yellow police tape cordoning off 95 Roxborough Road gave the three-story house the look of a murder scene.
“I never wanted a free house,” Douglass, 59, said outside the house. “I don’t want anything free. Just give me the opportunity to pay for it myself.”
Douglass bought the house with his wife in February 2008 and admittedly hasn’t made a mortgage payment on it since 2012.
He fell on hard times, having lost his job waiting tables, divorcing his wife and being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and a cardiac condition that Douglass said put him out of work for good. He said his income now consists of an $800 monthly disability stipend and food stamps.
Douglass said he has tried to modify his mortgage with the lender, Wells Fargo Bank, but that the bank would not cooperate. Douglass said he can afford to pay $400 a month, which is less than half of the roughly $950 he said he was paying.
Officials from Wells Fargo have said they were unable to get adequate information from Douglass to determine whether he was eligible for a loan modification or other alternative to foreclosure and moved forward with a foreclosure sale in 2014.
His plight had caught the attention of volunteers with Take Back the Land, an organization that recognizes housing as a human right. The organization had been lobbying for the house to be donated to a community land trust, a housing model in use across the nation that can help houses stay occupied and affordable.
Many of those volunteers gathered outside 95 Roxborough Road on Wednesday chanting, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”
Douglass said he had the option to stay with family but that his goal was to return to the house he calls home by the end of the year.
“I’ll be back,” Douglass said. “I’ll be back.”
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