Tomeka Langford, a 47-year-old mother of four, accused the city of “stealing” her home by not notifying her about missing payments. She originally bought the home in 2010 for $700, putting thousands of dollars worth of repairs into the house and paying back taxes.
Her family was staying in a renter home while the house was being renovated, and a flu outbreak forced them to take a break for three weeks. When Langford came back, she found her home was ransacked.
“When we did get back there, somebody had broken in and stolen all our furniture. Literally cleaned the place out. I was like, ‘What the hell! They done clinked us out!’” Langford told reporters. “They stole the storm door! We had furniture there. We had, like, a whole house!”
Then in spring 2012, the distressed mother found out Wayne County sold her foreclosed home during an auction. A nonprofit organization called Write A House gave the house to Anne Elizabeth Moore, a white woman, “under the condition that I upkeep the property, pay taxes, be a good neighbor, and write,” she wrote in The Guardian piece.
When a nonprofit housing low-income writers gave @superanne a free home in Detroit, she didn’t know the home had been stolen from Tomeka Langford. It was auctioned without Langford’s consent using predatory foreclosure tactics (@guardian, EHRP, @lisquart) https://t.co/hib9LzNpQp
— Economic Hardship Reporting Project (@econhardship) October 18, 2022
“The gift was meant to support writers with some of the city’s plentiful housing stock – and thus change the stories that get told about Detroit,” Moore said. “It was, on paper, a great idea. But the house I was given already belonged to someone: Tomeka Langford. I didn’t know it at the time. Neither did Tomeka.”
Moore didn’t find out about the home’s true owner until she tried selling it two years ago. That’s when she learned the home’s title still belonged to Langford.
“After a two-year period, the house was supposed to go in my name. The deed did–the document that gives me the right to own the property,” the occupant explained. “The title didn’t change hands.”
County records claim Langford only paid $689 toward her $5,000 balance, but the 47-year-old alleges she made “multiple payments” using her tax refund. Langford said she’s unlikely to sue, but only wants another home as compensation from Detroit officials.
“That would make me whole. Replace what you took,” she said. “They got plenty houses. They can spare one or two.”
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