Flint nonprofit in danger of eviction

The House of Esther has been listed for sale by the city of Flint.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:50 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The House of Esther, an organization dedicated to educating pregnant teens and young women while providing a roof over their heads, is in danger of eviction.

A back-and-forth over back taxes and who has rights to the property is generating confusion about the fate of the House of Esther in Flint.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the nonprofit found out that the building they currently occupy has been put up for sale.

“The administration, the mayor’s office has now put property, commonly called the House of Esther, up on the bid list for sale,” said Eric Mays, first ward councilman for the city of Flint.

This is not the first time the organization has been at risk of losing the property. In May 2022, TV5 spoke to Yvonne Penton, the founder and CEO of the House of Esther, when the city wanted the organization to reimburse them for back taxes.

This time, Mays said the listing came without warning.

“The previous council adopted a policy of the right of a first refusal. That means that people who were occupying that property when the property was lost, they have the right to purchase it first,” Mays said.

The founder and CEO of the House of Esther said the nonprofit would be more than willing to purchase the property, but the city is refusing to sell it to them.

“I believe when the city makes a promise to residents and others, we out of keep that promise. So that’s why I think it’s important,” Mays said.

Mayor Neeley released the following statement:

The property located at 500 W. Pierson Rd. is listed for sale on the City of Flint website, consistent with our property disposition procedures. This property is not zoned as residential nor is it owned by the House of Esther. It is owned by the City of Flint and the House of Esther has no legal claim to the property. While we appreciate the work that the House of Esther does, we cannot give property away without violating state law. As a municipality, we have an obligation to go through an open and competitive process that makes it available to anyone interested in purchasing it. Our goal is to sell this property so that it is reactivated and off the city’s liability. The House of Esther is able to bid for this property just like anyone else.

“They put padlocks on the door, and they have property in there and they have things that they need to get out of there,” Mays said. “So, I believe already the city has made some mistakes and there’s been different treatment as it relates to the House of Esther.”

Mays said the topic is expected to come up at the Flint city council meeting on Wednesday night, and he said he hopes a resolution can be reached.

The House of Esther is currently operating out of the Judson Baptist Church on Atherton Road in Burton.