Ms. Texana Hollis, 101, in earlier photograph, was evicted from her home of 50 years in the city of Detroit by the 36th District Court. This is a pattern taking place inside the United States over the last few years., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
September 13, 2011
Community rallies to help 101-year-old Detroit woman evicted from her home
BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
An eviction notice from the 36th District Court fluttered in the breeze on the front window of the modest colonial on Detroit's west side Tuesday.
The longtime homeowner, 101-year-old Texana Hollis, was in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit after being put out of her home the day before.
Authorities and her family say Monday's eviction came after Hollis' 64-year-old son, who lives with her, failed to pay her mortgage or taxes.
Others are now working to help Hollis find a place to live or return her to the home on Carbondale Road where she had lived for more than 50 years.
"It was so sad -- it really was," next-door neighbor Pearlean Butler, 45, said of watching her neighbor evicted. She agreed to store Hollis' clothing, adjustable bed and a few other belongings in her garage until the family figures out where she will stay.
"I didn't know until it was too late. The sons never said nothing to me. When I saw the court people, it was too late."
Warren Hollis admits it was his fault.
He said he had his mother sign a reverse mortgage in 2002. He said he received $32,000, using a major portion to pay for a new roof and the rest for other bills. He said he kept telling his older brother, Ira Hollis Jr., 69, who also lived in the home, that he was taking care of everything, even when default notices began appearing in the mail.
"I kept praying they wouldn't come," Warren Hollis said Tuesday. "I didn't take any action because I didn't think it would happen -- she's been here for such a long time. I screwed it up good."
Judge Marylin Atkins, chief judge of the 36th District Court in Detroit, said court records show the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development bought the home at auction in December. It would have taken $78,935.02 to stop the proceedings, she said.
Mike Hillebrand, spokesman for the Farmington Hills law offices of Trott & Trott, which handled the eviction action for HUD, referred questions to an e-mail address at HUD's Oklahoma office. That office referred inquires to Wayne County's tax authority, but the response came after the office had closed.
Records show the home has an assessed value of $5,215, and that the summer tax bill of $778.44 has not been paid.
Atkins said notices about the pending action would have started showing up in the Hollis' mail in May. A court officer began visiting the house a week ago, informing Texana Hollis' sons that they would be evicted Sept. 8. It rained that day, so he came back the next day, Atkins said. When the officer realized the family still wasn't ready Friday, he gave them until Monday.
"Out of respect for the elderly -- absolutely," Atkins said, explaining that the family had months to make arrangements. "This court officer tried to work with the son; nobody did anything."
Butler, the neighbor, has agreed to let the family stay in her empty rental home down the block until they find a permanent place to stay.
Hollis was taken to Henry Ford Hospital on Monday after she cried through the eviction. EMS was called when others realized her diabetes and heart medication had been lost in one of two disposal trailers stuffed with the family's belongings.
Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, who visited with Hollis' sons outside the home Tuesday, said he has called HUD to see what he can do to help.
"It's unfortunate, but at this point, it's about her well-being," he said. "She's in the hospital, probably devastated by this whole episode of being uprooted. It's about trying to find out if we can get her back into her home, and I'm not sure how that's going to happen just yet."
Robert Robinson II, founder of the grassroots group "It Takes A Village Y'All," said he's trying to rally support for Hollis. He expects to communicate with those who wish to help through the group's Facebook page.
"Through donations or whatever, we're going to try to get her house back," Robinson said Tuesday. "Once they saw she was an elderly lady, they should have turned to something else."
Staff writers Alexandra Bahou and Gina Damron contributed to this report.