Anti-eviction activists form 'blockade' at Semont Rd. house

A crowd of around 30 housing activists and about half as many members of the local media surrounded 26 Semont Rd. on Wednesday morning, as the chant "Melonie! Melonie!" rang out along the street.

Melonie Griffiths-Evans and her husband were victims of an alleged predatory lending scam. After her husband left and the refinancing promised to her by the lenders and real estate agent never materialized, she couldn't afford the $3,500 a month mortgage. The property was foreclosed upon and she received a notice to evict.

The original mortgage lender, New England Merchant Inc., is under a stop work order from the Attorney General and both it and the real estate agent, Champagne and Associates are facing lawsuits from the same office. US Bank now controls the house, and refuses to rent to Griffiths-Evans.

"It is in the best interest of the bank to let us stay until we get back on our feet, because it was a scam," said Griffith-Evans. "I'm hoping they will accept my rent instead of leaving me with nowhere to go."

The constable assigned to evict Griffiths-Evans called during the morning to say he wouldn't go through with it. Technically he has 48 hours to do so, but David Grossman of Harvard Legal Services said he suspected the eviction would be served again in March.

City Councillors Sam Yoon and Chuck Turner were at the house Wednesday, talking to reporters.

"The real hard work is getting to people three months or six months before, before it gets into a situation like this… We get calls weekly," said Yoon, before calling back a representative of US Bank who was denying responsibility.

Grossman helps City Life, which is organizing to help over 50 foreclosure victims across the city who face eviction.

City Life is planning a similar blockade at 200 Norfolk St. on Monday, where three families who were renting may be forced out of a home that was foreclosed on a relative of theirs, even though they have made offers to buy it.