Rosemary Williams turns down $5,000 offer to leave homeby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — A Minneapolis woman who refuses to leave her foreclosed home has turned down a $5,000 offer from GMAC Mortgage to leave the home by noon Tuesday.
Rosemary Williams' attorney, Jordan Kushner, said the mortgage company contacted him early Tuesday morning with the offer. Attorneys for GMAC said they would contact the police if Williams did not vacate the home.
"It's kind of like selling my soul to the devil for $5,000," Williams said.
Jeannine Bruin, a spokeswoman for GMAC Mortgage, confirmed the offer of "relocation funding," which she says is routinely done in foreclosures.
Bruin said the company hasn't received any offers for the home, which is now priced below $90,000. She said they're open to offers from nonprofits, but will not finance Williams because of her poor credit.
Bruin said GMAC is discussing the situation with law enforcement officials. "We haven't come to any decision about our next step."
An email sent Tuesday morning from Faegre and Benson LLP, attorneys for GMAC, to Kushner, says that GMAC will ask police to "secure the property" if Williams declines the offer. The email says that Williams has exhausted her legal options and should abide by the court's ruling.
The email says that GMAC has done "everything possible to help Ms. Williams except giving her the property for free," and says "even all the protesters and so-called supporters who are claiming to help her can't come up with the money to buy the property at the reduced rate."
"I sincerely hope you and your client will choose the peaceful option," the email concludes.
Sgt. William Palmer, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police, said there were no plans for police involvement Tuesday.
"We don't want to inflame this situation," Palmer said.
About 60 supporters have gathered at Williams' home, which they have dubbed the "S.S. Rosemary," vowing to remain in the home and risk arrest.
Williams has been fighting eviction for months, and two weeks ago, a deal that would have allowed her to stay in her south Minneapolis home fell through.
Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the property Friday, and ordered Williams to leave. Private locksmiths hired by GMAC Mortgage then locked the doors to the house and left the scene.
Shortly afterward, a group of supporters broke into the house and reopened the doors. About 20 people slept at the home Friday night, and have vowed to remain and engage in civil disobedience if law enforcement officials arrive to remove Williams from the premises.
Williams and her supporters said they want GMAC Mortgage to restart negotiations to modify her mortgage.
Williams' house is owned by Aurora, a mortgage servicing division of Lehman Brothers, according to GMAC Mortgage spokeswoman Jeannine Bruin.
Bruin confirmed that Aurora asked GMAC to follow through with the eviction proceedings. GMAC Mortgage has been servicing the mortgage on behalf of Aurora.
Williams has lived on the same block for 55 years. Williams said she and her mother moved into her current home 20 years ago. When her mother died six years ago, Williams said she refinanced twice into an adjustable rate mortgage.
When the monthly payments shot up from $1,200 to $2,200, she could not afford to pay, Williams said. Her home was sold at a sheriff's auction in September 2008, and she received notice that she needed to vacate the property by March 30.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of time Williams had lived in her current home.