Minneapolis woman fighting eviction ordered out within 7 days

Rosemary Williams
Rosemary Williams at a May 26 protest outside the Hennepin County Government Center. Williams and supporters gathered to protest her pending eviction from her foreclosed home.
MPR Photo / Madeleine Baran

A Minneapolis woman who has resisted eviction from her foreclosed home for months needs to vacate it within seven days, a Hennepin County judge ruled Wednesday.

Rosemary Williams has attracted widespread attention in recent months, as she partnered with local activists to fight eviction from the south Minneapolis home where she has lived for 26 years.

"This case is not just about me ... This is about our whole country."

Negotiations with lender GMAC Mortgage will continue, but if a settlement is not reached, Williams, 60, will likely have no further legal recourse.

A separate lawsuit filed by her neighbors against her mortgage company was dismissed on Wednesday. The suit alleged that allowing foreclosed homes to sit vacant creates a public nuisance.

When Williams' mother died six years ago, Williams refinanced twice into an adjustable rate mortgage. The monthly payments shot up from $1,200 to $2,200. Her home was sold at a sheriff's auction in September.

Since April, activists have packed Williams' court hearings and held several rallies to call attention to the effect of foreclosures on low-income homeowners.

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"This case is not just about me," Williams said before an April hearing. "This is about our whole country. We're here today to say the evictions have to stop."

Williams could not be reached for comment today.

In a statement released yesterday, GMAC spokesperson Jeannine Bruin stressed that efforts to negotiate with Williams will continue. "Even with the favorable judgment, our legal counsel met with the judge and Ms. Williams today to try to reach agreeable arrangements in this matter, as we did with Ms. Williams prior to the foreclosure and which we continue to do throughout these court proceedings," Bruin said.

Williams' supporters vow to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to prevent her eviction if a settlement is not reached. Activists say they are also prepared to conduct an emergency fundraising effort to help Williams pay any settlement costs.

"Right now, we're just crossing our fingers and praying," Cheri Honkala, an activist for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, said.