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Some Cleveland lease-to-own homeowners battle with the city to keep their homes

Christine Seidowsky has an uncertain future due to lease-to-own deal with failed Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corp.
Some Cleveland lease-to-own homeowners battle with the city to keep their homes
Posted at 10:57 PM, Mar 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-17 23:24:34-04

CLEVELAND — Christine Seidowsky has been making payments on her Cleveland Tremont home for more than 20-years, but now she reports the City of Cleveland is trying to take her home because of a failed lease-to-own deal.

Seidowsky is in Cuyahoga County Court waiting for a ruling that could force her to move out, or could allow her to purchase her home for the remaining balance on the loan.

"Next thing I know I’m basically being told that if they decide to sell the house I would have to get out and I’d have one year to move after being here for 26-years," Seidowsky said. “I don’t know where I would go tomorrow because I thought this was my home, to Just turn around and be told that the city is going to take it away, even though I have a contract and everything."

Some Cleveland lease-to-own homeowners battle with the city to keep their homes
Christine Seidowsky is fighting to keep the Cleveland Tremont neighborhood home she's been paying on for more than 20-years.

According to court documents, another lease-to-own homeowner on West 31st Street in Cleveland is also facing the prospect of having her home take away from her.

Seidowsky said the lease-to-loan agreement through the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation came into question when the agency was dissolved in 2021, shortly after former Ward 4 Councilman Ken Johnson and former development corporation executive director John Hopkins, were convicted and given jail time for mismanagement of federal funds.

Tremont West Development Corporation Executive Director Cory Riordan has been helping Christine through the court process in the fight to help her keep her home.

Riordan said the collapse of Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation caused the City of Cleveland to step in to officiate the lease-to-own agreements for more than 50 homeowners, but believes the city is trying to take back a few of those homes in effort to sell the houses and recoup some of the debt incurred by the development corporation failure.

Some Cleveland lease-to-own homeowners battle with the city to keep their homes
Tremont West Development Corp. Executive Director Cory Riordan is helping Christine Seidowsky in her fight to keep her home.

Riordan believes the City of Cleveland should stop its effort to take Christine's home, honor the original lease-to-own agreement and allow her to own the home free and clear by giving her the opportunity to payoff the remaining balance on the loan.

“For the city to object I just think it’s unfair, she should have the opportunities that the other lease-purchase program participants did to purchase the house," Riordan said. “But it’s unfortunate that she’s bearing the brunt of the failure of an organization, and additionally the City of Cleveland has the opportunity to make this right.”

News 5 contacted the City of Cleveland for this story and it issued the following statement:

The city has worked with more than three dozen residents impacted by this legal action to keep them housed. So far, 27 have successfully purchased their homes by meeting court-established criteria, creating opportunities for wealth creation through home ownership.

The City is obligated to follow the court-established criteria, and our position is consistent with those criteria. A judge has not yet ruled on this motion. We have no further comment on this ongoing legal action.

The case is now being considered by Cuyahoga County Presiding and Administrative Judge Brendan Sheehan, who conducted hearings on the case last November and February.

Meanwhile, Christine said she can only wait and hope for the best.

“I love it, I’ve raised my children here, I’ve been here for 26-years, you know I wanted to spend my life here," Seidowsky said. “I have been praying, I asked everybody to pray you know, that’s all I have left.”

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