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Courage in the face of Atlanta eviction nightmare

Courage in the face of Atlanta eviction nightmare

Published: March 30, 2015
Photo: AFSC / Tim Franzen

In January 2015, long-time Ellenwood, GA resident Michele Swan, with the support of her neighbors and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, publically reclaimed her home.

Evicted over the holidays by WRI Group, a subsidiary of American Residential Leasing Co., Michele has been locked in a battle with WRI Group to claim the house that has rightfully belonged to her since 2003.

Michele won her home in a divorce settlement years ago, and WRI has refused to recognize her as the owner since her name isn’t on the original loan. As a result, WRI has refused to communicate with her or accept any payment for the house.

A family's request

Michele is ready, willing, and able to hold a mortgage and make payments on her home. Her only request is that she and her children are able to remain in the home they have been investing in for years.

Senator Vincent Fort (D-GA) joined Michele to voice his concern over the situation and the manner in which Michele and her family have been treated, speaking, "We are calling on WRI to do the right thing: sit down at the table and reason together … we want to send a message to WRI, this is a new year and new day. We are not going to let this family be put out—we are going to stand with [them] for as long as it takes."

A community standing together

After Michele and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta continued efforts to enter into dialogue with WRI and ARL to no avail, they took the issue directly to WRI. American Friends Service Committee joined Michele and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta at WRI’s office to send a clear message that Michele will no longer be ignored, and that her community is standing beside her.

Finally, after Michele and her supporters were ordered by the Henry County Police to vacate her property, Michele was arrested, denied bond and charged with criminal trespassing. This sets a dangerous precedent for nonviolent housing justice protesters, who have exhausted every line of communication with the involved parties in an effort to peacefully resolve the situation.

For more information, please visit Michele’s online petition. AFSC continues to work for justice for Michele and her family.