Facing foreclosure, Mary Smith of 53 Cutler Street, Rochester, NY 14621, is pledging to stay in her home and not let American Tax Funding put her out of her longtime home.  Take Back the Land Rochester is pledging to support her. Mary and her community are prepared to nonviolently resist attempts to displace if necessary.

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Her house is scheduled to go to auction 10am February 26 at the Monroe County Office Building. A petition circulated both by door-to-door canvassing and online posting is calling for ATF to call off the auction and negotiate. Over 525 signatures have been received to date and the number continues to grow.

Mary Smith has lived at 53 Cutler Street for 30 years, raising six children. She paid off her mortgage to ES&L 12 years ago. She is the Vice President of the Cutler Street Plus Block Club and has been a commanding force in the community for decades. She is affectionately known as the “Mayor of Cutler Street,” who has severed hundreds of hotdogs to neighbor kids at kickball games. In her dining room she displays a large promotional poster featuring her as a poster person for volunteerism.

Although Mary has a long history of paying her bills, serious health problems have fell on Mary and she fell behind on her taxes.  Although she always tried to catch up it seemed she was only paying off the interest. To make matters worse, the City of Rochester and the County of Monroe sold her tax liens to a for-profit company in Florida called American Tax Funding (ATF).  A predatory privatization scheme, American Tax Funding charges usurious interest on the liens of Rochester residents going through financial hardship even though it buys the liens from the City and the County from .43 to 49 cents on the dollar.

After having serious health problems that often left her unable to work, Mary has now qualified for disability, has steady income, and is willing and able to pay off her liens to American Tax Funding.  However, despite repeated attempts to set up payment plans and, to work out a settlement.  ATF will not answer her lawyer’s calls and is planning to auction off her house for as much profit as possible on February 26, 2013.  Mary is courageously and defiantly standing up against American Tax Funding and we stand will her.  An auction protest is scheduled for 10am at February 26 at the County Building and a community eviction defense is planned if ATF (or an investor ATF sells the house to) tries evict the Mary from her home.

On Monday, February 11th, Mary and a dozen supporters from Take Back the Land Rochester hand delivered a letter pleading her case to the local law firm, Phillips Lyttle, representing American Tax Funding.  There is an early but preliminary indication of movement by ATF as a result of the letter.  You can stay updated at http://TakeBackthelandRochester.org/MarySmith