Woman: Forced to live alongside squatter in my Detroit house - FOX 13 News

Forced to live alongside squatter in my Detroit house, woman says

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By Taryn Asher
FOX 2 News Reporter

DETROIT -- Heidi Peterson always dreamed of living in a historical home.  In May of 2010, she bought one in Detroit's Boston-Edison District for $23,000.

After being away for a year, she said she returned to her house last week and found a woman living there.  Peterson learned from neighbors she had been living there for a few months.

Peterson claims the squatter changed the locks, reworked the plumbing, replaced her appliances, put a lien on the house and even changed the curtains, and now this squatter won't leave.  So now they are forced to sleep one room away from each other, Peterson with her one-year-old daughter.

The alleged squatter's name is documented all over the house as Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair, a write-in candidate for president.

We asked Peterson whether she feels safe.

"I don't know what the capabilities are.  We're afraid of her mindset of entitlement."

A squatter doesn't have a legal right to the property, but under the law the homeowner cannot remove a squatter by force.  In most cases, the homeowner has to file a civil action in court, prove it's their property and evict the squatter.  That is what Peterson is trying to do.

"She thinks that this is a program in Detroit to take people's homes and fix them up and then she gets to keep them," Peterson said.

Since Peterson spent all of her money on the house, she said she can't afford to go anywhere else, and until she can legally kick the woman out, they are forced to live under the same roof.

"I thought if the house is not safe, how can I come here with my child?  There's an issue with that.  But should I lose my house to a squatter because I don't have rights to my property or should I fight to get it back," said Peterson.

As our story was going to air, we had a chance to talk to the alleged squatter.  She denied that she was squatting and said she has a lease.

"I have a construction lien for the repairs that I put into the house.  Someone had (broken) into the house on July the Fourth and they stripped the radiators and I made a report," she added.

"In February 2011, we had to vacate because the boiler was damaged," she continued.  "I took all my books and my writings, but my (furniture was) still left in (there)."

We also asked her whether she thinks there is a program where anybody can go into Detroit, take over an abandoned house and live there.

"I'm an advocate for affordable housing.  That's a part of my campaign," she said.  "I've believed that since the first time I met her when I was running for state Senate (in) 2010 and she was also running for a political office, that was a part of my belief.  I signed an oath pledging that I would fight for affordable homes."

We're told Peterson leased the house to tenants in 2010, including this alleged squatter, but had to evict everyone when it was found not fit to live in.

We're also told the alleged squatter filed papers with the city claiming the property was abandoned.

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