Entertainment And News

Woman Saved From Eviction By Neighbors Who Worked Together To Buy Her Home

Photo: Facebook
Linda Taylor's home

A woman in Minneapolis was given a two months notice from her landlord to vacate the residence she proudly called her home for nearly two decades.

The landlord raised 70-year-old Linda Taylor’s rent twice during the pandemic and after being laid off from her job, she burned through her savings and government housing assistance and couldn’t afford to live there anymore.

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Taylor thought she would have to leave her home, so in one last-ditch effort, she sought the guidance of one of her friends who worked as a housing rights organizer to see what he could do.

The people of the Powderhorn Park neighborhood raised enough money to purchase Linda Taylor’s home.

Taylor had originally owned the house that she was going to be evicted from, buying it back in 2004, but fell for a real estate deal that she didn’t understand

The house ultimately went back to the previous owner who let her stay on as a renter.

After the owner fell into a mortgage fraud scheme back in 2006, the home was purchased by Greg Berendt, the landlord who wanted to kick Taylor out of her home.

“It felt like the world had been pulled from under me,” Taylor told The Washington Post, referring to the moment she received her eviction notice. “My house means everything to me.”

Berendt wanted to sell the white stucco home that rested just a few miles south of downtown Minneapolis, but Taylor couldn’t afford the $299,000 sum he was asking for.

“I could not sleep, I could not eat,” said Taylor, who lives alone in the two-bedroom house. “I felt really defeated.”

She worked at a local nonprofit organization for three years before being laid off during the pandemic.

Fortunately, she was able to keep up with the rent that had already been raised twice to $1400 a month through the use of her savings money, money from family, and government subsidies including RentHelpMN.

After all those things ran out, Berendt told her that if she didn’t willingly leave or buy the home, he would evict her.

“I’m going to do something about it,” Taylor remembered telling herself. “This is my house.”

Taylor was very good friends with her neighbor across the street, 41-year-old Andrew Fahlstrom, who works professionally as a housing rights organizer.

“She has always been the one in the neighborhood who greets everyone,” Fahlstrom said of Taylor.

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Their strong relationship instilled a sense of justice in Fahlstrom, who vowed to do anything to help Taylor stay in her home.

“So many people are losing housing right now,” he said. “If we actually believe housing is a right, then we need to act like it because the next step is homelessness.”

As luck would have it, the neighborhood group was capable enough of mobilizing to Taylor’s aid.

George Floyd Square was only two blocks away from them, and ever since the protests, the communities have never been closer.

“The infrastructure was there, the communication line was there, the neighborhood relationships were there,” Fahlstrom said.

Together, along with about 400 neighbors, they wrote a letter to Berendt and were able to get a June 30th deadline for a home purchase of $250,000 — a lower price than the original asking set by the landlord.

With the deadline in sight, it was time to get the fundraising efforts in motion.

Block parties, art galleries, social media campaigns, raising more and more awareness, word of mouth, literally anything that would spread the word about Taylor’s predicament and help bring funds to the table.

They created a website for the campaign and a fundraising page on GiveButter where people donated anywhere from $5 to $15,000 — but the largest donation came from a local church that decided to pitch in $200,000 to the cause.

“When that came through, my faith grew bigger than a mountain,” Taylor said.

Within just four months, the neighborhood was able to raise $275,000 and close on the home, with all of the extra money going towards repairs and utility costs.

“When it’s yours, it gives you a different type of feeling,” Taylor said. “I’m safe, I’m secure, and I have a home.”

Taylor expressed that she was adamant about paying the kindness forward, promising to host movie nights, lemonade stands, backyard barbecues, and likely keeping the little free library she has in her front yard brimming with books.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” she said, “and it continues on.”

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Since graduating from Rutgers University, he spends most of his free time gaming or playing a fictional sport. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.

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