Victory in Brooklyn! Successful Blockade Prevented Eviction of Mary Lee Ward

Victory in Brooklyn! The police could not carry out the eviction of Ms. Ward, that they had guaranteed would be today, as reported in media coverage. 

Ms. Mary Lee Ward, an 82 year -old woman, faced forcible eviction by a marshal from her Brooklyn home of 44 years because of a subprime mortgage she bought in 1995. The lender, Delta Funding, has since been shut down for predatory and discriminatory practices.

Fifteen years ago Ms. Ward signed a contract with a subprime lender, Delta Funding, and borrowed $82,000 against her house, but only received a loan of $1,000.

In 1999, the state was about to sue Delta Funding when the two sides reached a settlement over allegations of predatory lending practices directed at elderly members of minority groups throughout Queens and Brooklyn. 

The lender sent a letter to Ms. Ward in 2001 informing her that they were canceling her loan, but in fact, it never was canceled. Instead the mortgage has been passed from financial institution to financial institution for 10 years and Ms. Ward has been in and out of court facing eviction over the loan. 

Last year, a real estate speculation company, 768 Dean Inc., bought Ms. Ward’s loan at auction. The company arranged for a marshal to remove Ms. Ward from her property on Friday. 

It was the perfect situation for the community to come together and show our elected and appointed officials that if they cannot guarantee the human right to housing we, as a community, are self determined to make the human right to housing a reality. 

So on Friday morning around 200 neighbors, friends, housing advocates and supporters came together in solidarity and formed a thick human wall outside Ms. Ward’s small house on Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn. The demands were that the eviction be stopped and that the landlord give the deed back either directly to Ms. Ward or to the Bed-Stuy community in a land trust for affordable housing. 

Shortly after 9:30, the local state assemblywoman, Annette Robinson, announced that the marshal would not be taking action against Ms. Ward today. Ms. Robinson vowed to negotiate with the deed holder to keep Ms. Ward in her home. Ms. Ward stays in her home and she’s got at least two more weeks until the negotiations take place.  

It was a victory for Ms. Ward, the housing advocates and the community proving that “the people united, will never be defeated.”

Read more from The New York Times.