Last-minute negotiations narrowly halted the eviction Friday of a Minneapolis woman who has publicly refused to leave her foreclosed home for months.
Rosemary Williams, 60, received a 24-hour eviction notice this morning. Three hours later, she learned that a local non-profit has entered into negotiations with GMAC Mortgage to allow her to remain in the property as a renter.
Supporters had already gathered at her south Minneapolis home vowing to risk arrest by refusing to leave. "No one has to go to jail today," Williams said, speaking at a press conference outside her home after she received the news.
At the press conference, Minneapolis city council member Elizabeth Glidden announced that she helped secure negotiations between GMAC Mortgage and the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, a local non-profit developer. Under the proposed agreement, the non-profit would sell the house to another local non-profit, which would then lease it back to Williams.
"She has become a symbol to the community of what so many people are going through," Glidden said.
GMAC Mortgage spokesperson Jeannine Bruin confirmed that negotiations began today. The mortgage company has servicing rights for the property and had ended negotiations with Williams on Wednesday. "We haven't finalized anything but we're very hopeful," Bruin said.
Williams has lived on the same block for 55 years. Twenty-six years ago, Williams and her mother purchased her current home. When her mother died six years ago, Williams refinanced twice into an adjustable rate mortgage.
When the monthly payments shot up from $1,200 to $2,200, she could not afford to pay, Williams said. Her home was sold at a sheriff's auction in September and she received notice that she needed to vacate the property by March 30.
Since then, Williams and her supporters have led protests, packed courtrooms, and encouraged other foreclosed homeowners to remain in their homes.
Although Williams declared the negotiations a victory, Glidden cautioned that homeowners facing foreclosure should first consider other options.
"This is probably a very unusual deal," she said.
As supporters celebrated by drinking wine on Williams' porch, a construction crew loudly gutted a boarded up house across the street. Someone had spray painted "2 Many Empty Homes, 2 Many Homeless," and "What Housing Crisis?" across the vacant home's white siding.