Mary Smith has lived at 53 Cutler Street on the city’s north side for 30 years. After her husband died, and some serious health problems (spinal surgeries and years of therapy) Mary says she fell behind on her taxes – by about $30,000. The City of Rochester and Monroe County then sold her tax debt to a Florida company called American Tax Funding . Mary says she now has the ability to pay her debt, but American Tax Funding will not negotiate. On Tuesday, they may throw her out of her house and auction off the property. Volunteers with a group called Take Back the Land is helping Mary with a petition to ask CEO, Matthew A. Marini, to cancel the foreclosure auction and negotiate a settlement…
These photos of Mary, her family and home, were taken by Julie Gelfand of Take Back the Land.
Mary says her identity is closely tied with her home and community. “I want and need to get back ownership of the home that I love. My community is a major part of my life. I feel a deep commitment to my neighborhood and my neighbors.”
Mary’s been an active member of the Cutler PLUS Community Block Club since 1983, and is currently its vice president. “I want to continue to live in the community that I have nurtured and cared for… I deserve thanks, not foreclosure.”
If American Tax Funding does not agree to work out a settlement, Take Back the Land members say there will be a protest at the Feb. 26 foreclosure auction and “community defense of a possible eviction.” In the past, Take Back the Land has assisted other Rochester homeowners in negotiating with the City, rallying community support, and ultimately drawing attention to an imperfect and inhumane system.
UPDATE: 13 WHAM News said last night that American Tax Funding is working with Smith’s attorney on an arraignment that is expected to keep her home off the auction block. There may also be assistance from the City according to Councilwoman Carloee Conklin.
Tags: 53 Cutler Street, American Tax Funding, City of Rochester, Julie Gelfand, Mary Smith, Monroe County, Rochester, Rochester NY, Take Back The Land
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