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May 27, 2018

We Turned the Rumor True

Head Heart Hustle Herald

Sunday, June 3rd Edition

I grew up in a family that believed in the American Dream. By that, I mean, that we believe that if you worked hard, your hard work would be rewarded and that those who succeeded had earned it. It was left to our imaginations to infer that those who did not succeed were probably at fault too.

When I left the confines of my big family and small town, I brought my world view with me. But, time after time, it seemed not to match. Ann Arbor, South Africa, Detroit, France, New York- I passed through places and ways of being and tried to hold up my world view to each one. I tried to make the bubble bigger, but inevitably, it popped.

I don’t think that way of viewing the world is bad, it’s just that isn’t true. Not yet.

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When I got started doing tax foreclosure work in 2014, I spoke to many people who lived in homes that were up for auction. Many of them were under a false impression that they would have the first chance to buy their home before the general public.

It was my job to break that rumor. I told them its just like the t-shirts: “Detroit versus Everybody.” It doesn’t matter if you put a roof on that house, it doesn’t matter if you raised your child there, it doesn’t matter if you already paid the mortgage on it- you literally have no advantage over any other buyer. In fact, you are actually at a disadvantage for a number of reasons.

They weren’t wrong in thinking it should be that way, it’s just that they were wrong to think it was true.

Last year, my team and I at United Community Housing Coalition created a program using a process called the First Right of Refusal. In it, we were able to help 80 families buy the homes they already lived in before they went for public auction. The primary requirement of the program is that it was only for people who already live in the home. They got first dibs, just like we all knew they should.

When I talked about the program, I would give myself goosebumps every time. I think it’s because I knew that what we were doing wasn’t just a cool project, we were literally turning the rumor true. We were making the dream of a world that is fair ever so slightly closer to being reality.

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Sometimes when I tell people I’m running for office, they give me a sympathetic look and a head tilt and say “Awww, do you really think you can change government?” Here is what I say:

I don’t think I can fix everything, but I do know that things can get worse, and that nothing will get better if we don’t try. ​

I also know that the vision we have of a fair and equitable world like the one I grew up believing in is extremely far from the one we live in now, but I believe that we can continue to work together to turn that rumor true, one step at a time.

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To all who have donated time, support and money to the campaign- thank you! You can contribute at any time via our webpage.

If you want to volunteer, join us every Saturday for canvassing! We’ll serve something delicious to thank you for your efforts. If you have questions or need another time, contact Evan Fisher at www.michele4rep.volunteer@gmail.com. (Bring friends!)

As always, feel free to contact me directly at 313-770-0818 or michele4rep@gmail.com.

Your candidate,

Michele Oberholtzer

May 27, 2018

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