Photo by Michael Kostiuk Trash: No complaints, no collection in1965 when another man, who had used the mortgages as collateral to get a loan, defaulted on his debt to Billings. Billings told the Observer that he does not know how many buildings he now owns or holds mortgages on in Joe Louis. He said he originally held four regular mortgages in the area with a note and deed: all the rest were contracts for sale. NIP records show t at 11 homes in the been razed on the city’s orders after they fell vacant. Billings is legally responsible for removing the debris. When Joe Gonzalez began community organization in Joe Louis this fall, he invited Billings to come to a community meeting to answer residents’ questions. According to Gonzalez, Billings said he did not want to go to Joe Louis at night. He reportedly told Gonzalez, “I’ve worked with those people for a long time and I’ll tell you what the problem is. The problem is that I’ve been too good to those people.” Gonzalez said he then asked Billings if he would respond to written questions and Billings agreed. However, the Carey affair intervened and Billings refused to answer any questions. Mrs. C.B. Carey formerly lived at 5404 Estie in Joe Louis. She had been paying $35 a month on a contract for sale since Sept. 15, 1953 over $7,000. Early this fall her home was razed by a .contractor hired by Billings. Mrs. Carey’s clothes and furniture and her daughter’s clothes were in the house. Mrs. Carey’s contract had passed through three different holders. Although she always lived in the same house, the legally described lot on which she paid in the first contract was not the same legally described lot listed to her in the second contract. Since 1965 she has paid Billings. According to Billings, Mrs. Carey was months behind in her payments and he warned her in early March or April that he would foreclose. The foreclosure action was actually taken in May. Billings said Mrs. Carey knew about it because she came to his office to talk to him about it. Mrs. Carey said she did not know about the foreclosure and never received a warning letter from Billings. He did not send the letter by registered or certified mail as the law requires. Mrs. *Carey said, “Sometimes I got a little behind in my payments, but .I caught back up.” She said Billing wrote her in August, 1969, saying that she was behind. She said she made up by paying $50 a month for a while after that instead of $35. \(Mrs. Carey technically lost her house said she heard nothing from Billings after August, 1969. Mrs. Carey had a son and a mentally retarded daughter living with her on Estie St. In November, 1969, she said she had to go stay with a married daughter to help her care for her children. But Mrs. Carey said that her son and daughter stayed in her house until spring of 1970. NIP RECORDS show that the house was first inspected March 18, 1970, that it was declared vacant and a substandard notice was slapped on it. Shepherd said his office would not consider any house vacant that had furniture in it. The March 18 report listed no furniture in the house, nor did six subsequent inspection reports list any changes. But underneath the rubble of Mrs. Carey’s house are a television, dresser, bed, refrigerator, freezer and clothes. On March 23, NIP sent Billings a letter informing him that the house was in Violation of city ordinances and giving him 30 days to bring it up to standards. No response. Another letter was sent May 7. No response. NIP officials said they let the deadline pass because of a heavy workload. On August 14 NIP sent Billingsa citation to appear before the housing standards commission and show cause why the house should not be declared substandard and condemned and why it should not be repaired or destroyed. Billings failed to appear but his secretary called to say he was out of town but had hired a contractor to destroy the house. When the city sent out inspectors again, the house was down. Joe Gonzalez, who was present when the house was razed, said the sequence was like a bad farce. The bulldozer driver trundled around the neighborhood trying to decide which house to knock down. He pushed over two of Shaw’s fruit trees. Gonzalez said the contractor got conflicting orders from Billings and Billings’ lawyer. The dozer driver didn’t seem keen on knocking down anything but the contractor got teed off at Gonzalez and, in a strong snit, ordered the deed done. Mrs. Carey now has an attorney working on her case. On Dec. 3, the Joe Louis Addition got the beginning of a temporary reprieve. The city’s planning commission accepted its department’s recommendation that Joe Louis be zoned for agricultural use only, . not for industrial development. The planning commission’s recommendation now goes to the zoning commission, which will in turn make its own recommendation to the city council. If the council approves, Joe Louis will be zoned agricultural The planning department’s recommendation is based on the fact that Joe Louis is subject to flooding. Levees will have to be built before industrial development can take place there. A few residents of Joe Louis came to the planning commission meeting at which the department’s recommendation was announced. They were a little confused. “I’ve lived there 22 years and never been flooded,” said Mrs. Homer Jones. “Does this mean my taxes will go up?” “Now that we’re zoned, do we get water and sewer?” asked Harry Smith. Billings did not seem pleased by the recommendation. “God, I don’t know,” he said to the commissioners. “I don’t want to have to hurry and open a wrecking yard out there December 25, 1970 5
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