Homeowners Battle ‘Tangled Title’ Foreclosure

Alan Tilley: Fighting to keep the house in his mother’s memory.

Laura Glesby Photos

766 Orchard House.

Twenty years after his family bought a church-built home to stabilize his neighborhood, Alan Tilley is fighting to keep it from falling into the hands of out-of-town landlords.

A social worker and Navy veteran, Tilly is fending off a home foreclosure on the 766 Orchard Street property where he lived for 20 years.

This is one of the rows of homes that a non-profit affiliated with the Beulah Heights Pentecostal Church built on the Orchard between Manson and Henry, and was once troubled to encourage homeownership rather than real estate speculation. I’m trying to stabilize the block.

Families like Tilley’s purchased homes on the condition that the property would remain in the owner’s hands for at least 20 years.

Now that 20-year requirement has passed and Tilley faces the possibility of losing his home to a large investor.

Tilly continued to pay her mother’s Wells Fargo mortgage over the years, but was unable to keep up during times of financial difficulty. He currently owes the bank over $68,000 of his debt. A week ago he filed for bankruptcy.

Tilley helped pay for food and utilities. But because they never secured formal ownership of their homes, they don’t have access to resources normally available to veterans and other homeowners struggling to maintain their homes.

The housing court legally prevented him from entering mediation with the mortgage company. naManager, not owner, of her late mother’s estate and her debts. Before you can improve your home’s financial situation, you must go through probate court proceedings and establish a formal claim on the property.

For black families like Tilley’s, the generational wealth that homeownership initially promises can be disproportionately lost. The house was once the intersection of two of his black-majority neighborhoods, an area flooded with rental properties, and symbolized a new era of homeownership. Tilley said he has received countless letters and phone calls from out-of-town and out-of-state investors looking to buy the property since Wells Fargo filed foreclosure in 2020. feels uncomfortable.

His mother appears in all of Tilly’s favorite home memories. He loved going to her house and talking to her. She gave him unbiased advice, which he always followed. She spent more and more of her life inside her home as her lung disease kept her from leaving less and less.Tilly is fighting for her home but is also fighting for her mother. naFor her memory,” he said.

20 years owner occupancy

This home at 766 Orchard is one of several built in the early 2000s by Beulah Land Development Corporation, a nonprofit affiliated with the Beulah Heights Pentecostal Church one block down. It’s almost a copy of the other white-roofed Beulah homes on the block, except for the bright red porch. Many houses on that Orchard Street block now sell and use crack cocaine hubs. naThe 90s; the block was haunted by the 1994 murder of seven-month-old baby Daniel Taft on the street.

In the wake of Daniel’s death, Beulah leader Reverend Theodore Brooks set out to revive the block by creating affordable homeownership opportunities. Through the company, we have rebuilt 20 homes in this area with a 20 year owner residency requirement. This meant that anyone who owned a house after Beulah had to live there for the next 20 years.

The homeownership program is a stable program and it works really well,” recalls Darrell Brooks, who took over the helm of the development company from his father. Through the development of Beulah, naThere are many homeowners who have created opportunities to build sustainable wealth. ”

Having lived on Orchard Street for many years, Edythe Tilley learned about Beulah’s homeownership opportunity from a friend. She lived in her mother’s Orchard Street house for a while, but she moved into a rented apartment near St. Raphael Hospital. She had never lived in a house with her name on her deed until she purchased her Beulah home in 2002.

It didn’t take long for youngest son Alan to live with his mother.

My mother and I have been through some hard times,” he said. naI left my nest, but I was always there. Every time he visited his mother, he would open the refrigerator to make sure it wasn’t too empty and check his bills to make sure they were paid in full. He was worried about her and didn’t want her to go into her nursing home. In 2003, at the age of 49, Tilly moved home.

Edythe was a hairdresser who loved live music and couldn’t stop smoking.she is naAs young Tilly said. naMy mother was cool and gentle. She spoke her own thoughts. She told me what she thought was right.

The pair formed a tradition of going to Linnon’s restaurants & Live bands play in the restaurant every Saturday night at the bar on State Street. naShe didn’t dance very well, but she danced in a chair,” Tilly recalled of her mother.

Edythe’s lung disease progressed from ambulatory pneumonia to bronchitis, COPD, and she found herself increasingly homebound. After numerous hospital visits, she found herself in the intensive care unit, unable to speak. She could not speak about the fate of her own home and her belongings. Tilly’s biggest regret is not asking her sooner.

After Edythe died, Alan Tilley mourned and passed the deadline to file a probate court petition. One paralegal he spoke to about the issue seemed insensitive, he said. Tilly’s lack of an official claim to the home didn’t affect his ability to live there until Wells Fargo filed a foreclosure in June 2020.

Barriers to Intergenerational Wealth

Darrell Brooks of Beulah Land Development Corporation said he had not heard of the 766 Orchard foreclosure and was interested in helping Tilley maintain the home.

The African-American community has lost the opportunity to transfer property because of foreclosures like this,” Brooks said. Part of Beulah’s building mission nawealth of generations naFamilies can leave assets to their children. ”

The specific type of foreclosure Tilly is undergoing — naForeclosures of “tangled ownership,” including property with uncertain or unofficial heirs, are particularly affecting black families in cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Of the 13 other Beulah Houses near the intersection of Orchard and Manson, only one has changed ownership to a corporate landlord. After an apparent foreclosure in 2013, the 318 Manson home is now owned by an affiliate of Mandy Management, the city’s largest landlord of poverty.

New Haven Neighborhood Housing Service (NHS), another nonprofit developer that has created affordable homeownership opportunities in New Haven for more than 40 years, built in New Haven, according to the organization’s managing director, Bridget Russell. About 90% of the housing remains owner-occupied.

According to Russell, when nonprofit-developed, homeowner-oriented homes go into foreclosure, income restrictions on owner residency and future buyers may remain in place, depending on how the development was originally financed. If there is, it may not be. naSome lenders are reluctant to make loans if: [the owner-occupancy and income requirements] Survive the foreclosure,” Russell said.

Beulah’s initial owner-occupancy requirement expired in early 2022, so the Tilley home could be sold to any buyer. However, Tilley is working to obtain formal ownership of the home and has sought help from Neighborhood Housing Services and the Wallingford-based Community Development Fund. Capital for change. He was able to block the foreclosure sale of the house, which was scheduled for early August, by filing for bankruptcy, and is now working to add his name to the house deed.

Housing uncertainty weighs on Tilley, but he remains calm and optimistic. He stumbled upon a mantra for staying positive. naIt’s always too early to stop. A devout Christian, he said he thanked God for allowing him to keep his home up to this point.

With the fate of the home looming over her head, Tilley finds meaning in her job as a residential assistant at the Continuum of Care. Continuum of Care is an organization that provides housing and social services to people suffering from mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use. At work, he encounters homeless veterans every day. He helps access special housing resources that he is not entitled to.

“It’s almost like a mirror image to me,” he said. naI am a stone’s throw from their plight. ”

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