Residents losing homes say city leaders left ceremony early for pizza party

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Facing foreclosure, several families turn to their city to find out how they can keep their homes.

The council's swearing in ceremony took place Monday, but instead of taking public comment from a lot of desperate people trying to save their homes, they went to a pizza party.

"These residents must be heard," said attorney Tarek Beydoun at the meeting. "They are losing their homes."

Several Garden City homeowners who lost their homes are now facing eviction. They went to address the council but the members walked out without hearing public comment..

Mayor Randy Walker explained Tuesday that the purpose of the meeting was to swear in new members, they had a pizza party to get to.

FOX 2: "Do you think it was somewhat rude to blow it off for a pizza party?"

"Well again three years again of non-payment now," Mayor Randy Walker said. "What's the rush."

"That's disgusting," said Andrea Rowe, whose family lost two homes to tax foreclosure. "You would rather go eat pizza then the very people tell them to their face why their house is being taken from them?"

Rowe, whose family was on a county payment plan, claims their house on Henepin was sold before the tax sale deadline.

Because of job losses and deaths in the family, they admit they missed required payments, but thought they had more time. Last August they went to pay $15,000 in back taxes only to learn the county had already sold their house to Garden city - which then sold it to a developer.

"What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong," Walker said. "Is it fair to 11,000 home owners that have been paying their taxes for three years and getting city and county services.

"I feel for them but they had plenty of notice."

David Szymanski from the Wayne County Treasurer's Office claims families receive more than a dozen of notices over three years.

He even pointed to this payment agreement they signed, which says if the homeowner doesn't pay 60 percent of their 2012 taxes by July 7. It would be offered to the state, city or county for auction.

Like several cities in metro Detroit, Garden City sold a total of 17 houses to a developer who plans to fix them up and sell them to new young families.

"We will raise our voices ask they rescind the contracts and if they don't, there is legal recourse," Beydoun said.

Beydoun represents several of the families who are now fighting to get their houses back - and as of right now have no place to go.

"If we end up having to leave here, we just don't know," Rowe said. "Because none of us have the money or the means to buy another house. These houses and mortgages are paid off."

Beydoun has filed a complaint with the attorney general's office. He is claiming that the City Council violated the open meetings act.

Some cities like Dearborn have worked with the home owners because they were ready to pay the rest of their taxes within a full week. Walker said that in Garden City it is too late and that the houses have already been sold to a developer.