82-Year-Old Brooklyn Woman Plans Civil Disobedience to Block Eviction

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mary Lee Ward has lived in the same house for 40 years, but since falling victim to lending scams and foreclosure, she's getting evicted. Still, she says she'll barricade herself in her home before leaving. (Published Friday, Aug 19, 2011)

    An elderly resident  who vowed to use human shields to block authorities scheduled to forcibly evict her this morning has at least a temporary reprieve.

    Assemblywoman Annette Robinson will meet with the new property owners later today to discuss the fate of Mary Lee Ward's home, which has been in foreclosure for three years.

    Meanwhile, a small group gathered outside the home of the 82-year-old Ward, who has lived inside the unit at 320 Tompkins Avenue for more than four decades.

    She bought the building in the late 1960s, but in 1995 she fell victim to a predatory lending scheme that promised her $13,000 if she refinanced into a subprime mortgage.

    "He said sign these papers," Ward said, referring to the loan officer who persuaded her to take the cash-out deal.

    Soon after, the great-grandmother who survives on a fixed Social Security income could no longer afford the increased mortgage payments. She has been fighting foreclosure ever since.

    Even though the federal government sued Ward's lender, Delta Funding, for predatory practices, the suit did not stop a series of other banks from buying and selling Ward's loan. 

    In 2008, the senior citizen resident was officially foreclosed upon.
     
    Lawyers from a non-profit called Common Law are now helping the elderly Brooklynite fight eviction. 

    A marshal was scheduled to arrive sometime after 8 a.m. Friday to forcibly remove the frail resident. Ward and her allies planned to barricade themselves inside the building.

    "She has no intention of leaving," said Karen Gargamelli, a non-profit attorney who has been working with Ward in a three-year effort to block the foreclosure and eviction.  

    "It'll never be done until I'm back in my house," Ward told NBC New York. "Actually, we're not going out of my house."

    Shameem Chowdhury is the new owner behind the eviction push. He owns the Hallal restaurant on Brooklyn's Fulton Street. Chowdhury tells NBC New York he bought Ward's home at a foreclosure auction as an investment property, yet he's been unable to collect rent.

    "I am a victim too," said Chowdhury.