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Housing trust gears up

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Liz McGriff's fight to regain ownership of her Cedarwood Terrace house has stretched over five years, but soon that struggle could be over.

McGriff fell behind on her mortgage payments after she lost her job with the US Postal Service. The loan's owner, MidFirst Bank, foreclosed on the property. But McGriff has managed to resist eviction with the help of the activist group Take Back the Land, as well as neighbors and other community members.

MidFirst offered to sell the property back to McGriff, first at a price above what she owed on the mortgage. The bank has since come in with a lower figure, and the fledgling City Roots Community Land Trust is stepping in to help McGriff raise $15,000 to buy the house and land. (Fundraiser details are available at https://www.youcaring.com/elizabethmcgriffandthecityrootscommunitylandtrust-1016368.)

McGriff and trust volunteers are currently in talks with MidFirst, but they hope to wrap up the purchase in mid-December, says Ryan Acuff, a member of Take Back the Land, which helped found the nonprofit trust. City Roots is an effort to invest in city neighborhoods without gentrifying them and displacing or pricing out existing residents.

"We think that this is a piece of the process of preserving and stabilizing affordable neighborhoods," Acuff says.

If everything works out, McGriff's house will be the first protected by City Roots. She'll retain ownership of the structure but will transfer the ownership of the land to the trust, Acuff says.

"It would mean a lot," McGriff says. She and her family would have an affordable way to stay in their home and the specter of eviction would be gone, she says.

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