Community Bands Together to Help Save Family from being Homeless for the Holiday
The Guillaume Family Makes Plea to Bank of America
(November 16, 2012) Miami, FL – Today, Anne-Marie and Pierre Guillaume together with the Miami Workers Center/LIFFT, Florida Legal Services, and community members will stand before a judge in a hearing that will determine if their home of 28 years will go up for foreclosure. The Guillaume’s will have in hand letters from community members, to Bank of America, pleading for them to be allowed to remain in their home.
In a community meeting just two days after President Obama’s reelection, over 30 members of the West Miami Shores neighborhood joined together to take up the fight to save the home of Anne-Marie and Pierre. “She was the one that gave me a place to lay my head when I had problems with my family” says Stephanne D. referring to Anne-Marie. “To the people living here this isn’t just another run of the mill foreclosure; this is like losing a family member” says Whitney Maxey, Organizer with the Miami Workers Center.
Letters from community members who have received help from the Guillaumes or have encountered them continue to come in support of the family staying in their home. “Never before has there been such an out pour of community support to help keep a family from being evicted” says Attorney Jennifer Newton, Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services. A week before Thanksgiving the Guillaume’s are uncertain if they will be allowed to keep the home they raised their family in. “They are a shining example of the family values that are sorely needed in the face of these crippling economic times. Keeping them in their house is a benefit to the entire neighborhood. ” Trenise Bryant a leader of Miami Workers Center/LIFFT in a letter to Bank of America.
The Guillaume’s, who fled the poverty and political upheaval of Haiti to move to the U.S., never expected to face foreclosure. They purchased their home in 1984 and as their family grew, they converted their garage and small structures in the back of their home into living spaces for their children and father. Coming from Haiti they were unaware of the permits needed to make renovations and ended up getting approximately $38,000 in county liens over the years for zoning violations and had to pay another $16,000 to get their home in compliance with the county code. They decided that in order to get the money to pay off the liens and make the repairs they had to refinance the home.
Due to the Guillaume’s limited English, and reliance on a mortgage broker ,they entered into a mortgage they did not know the terms of in 2006 which led to the house being put up for foreclosure.
Why is this a community concern? Miami is one of the cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. The combination of equity loss, eviction related homelessness, speculation from absentee investors, and vacancies has created a situation in which our communities are becoming increasingly insecure. The wealth drain triggered by this crisis is contributing to an ever growing gap between rich and poor that is especially harmful to Black Americans. We see the reality of this downward economic trend play out every day locally and we are particularly concerned about the destabilizing impact foreclosure has, not just on individual families, but entire neighborhoods.
About Miami Workers Center/LIFFT
Founded in 1999 in Liberty City, the Miami Workers Center builds the power and leadership of low-income and working class communities of color for racial, economic, and gender equality. As a grassroots council of Miami Workers Center, LIFFT (Low-Income Families Fighting Together) represents the interests of low-wage workers, current and former welfare recipients, and other people of low and moderate income from Miami’s Black communities. As members of Miami Workers Center, we uplift the heritage of our African-American and Caribbean cultures and build unity with Latino sisters and brothers who share many of our same struggles.