Marvin Tyson is tired and frustrated.

For over a year, he has been trying to work with the Town of Rocky Mount’s Community and Business Development Department to save his late mother’s house, which was built with a community development block grant under the Down East Home Consortium.

“I don’t understand why they just can’t do the right thing,” Tyson said.

Tyson stood on the steps of the house at 508 E. Battle St. in Tarboro and extended his hands to his side in frustration as he spoke of facing Rocky Mount as he moved forward with plans for “Take over” the three bedroom, two bathroom house.

Recapture is a government word for foreclosure – and everyone understands what foreclosure means.

There was a time when the story of the small 1,405 square foot frame house on the corner of Battle and Romaine was much more positive.

Returning on March 10, 2011, Estella Tyson-Bell cut a blue ribbon stretched across the top opening of the same steps where her son stood over 11 years later to celebrate his new home.

The event was the main story of Friday’s edition of the Daily Southerner as county, state and federal government officials were on hand to celebrate Community Development Week.

She was joined by the builder and his wife, the project consultant coordinator for Edgecombe County, the state director of the Office of Economic Development and Recovery, the state assistant secretary for community development. and his pastor.

And while not in the picture, Ola Pittman, who at the time was Edgecombe County’s planning and inspection manager, sang the program’s praises in the newspaper article.

Tyson-Bell’s paperwork ended in Rocky Mount because the city is what the federal government calls a qualifying city. As such, it is the lead agency in administering programs like the one Tyson-Bell has participated in and receives funds in payment for this.

To participate in the program, Tyson-Bell had to first apply.

Peter Varney of Rocky Mount told the Telegram his request has been processed by Edgecombe County. Varney is the acting director of community and business development and the latest in a long list of people Tyson has contacted or attempted to contact.

“They (Edgecombe County) used their money to do some kind of redevelopment project in the East Battle area… four or five houses,” Varney said.

According to the Daily Southerner story, Edgecombe County had used its money for what was described as reconstruction projects in the county, including three in Whitakers, two in Tarboro and one each in Conetoe and Pinetops. But no others in the “Eastern Battle Zone”.

Eric Evans, Edgecombe County Director, said: “Our staff would have likely taken the application here and forwarded it to the town, which we are doing to make it easier for residents to apply when they apply.”

Tyson doesn’t believe his mother, 70, with heart problems at the time, signed a 20-year-old promissory note.

“It makes (little) no sense that she would have done anything to jeopardize what she was working for and took so good care of it. She never hesitated to say it was a 10 year note. Never, ”he said.

Tyson-Bell even had a list of questions about the house, the first being “How does the plan work for the house” and the last reading: “If something sure (sic) happened to me, what would happen to my? House? “

As part of the program, Tyson-Bell had to live in the house for 20 years to meet the conditions of the promissory note. While the first 10 had no impact on the score, the second 10 would see the balance of $ 70,000 reduced by 10% per year until it reached zero.

Edgecombe County Commissioner Viola Harris, who represented the Battle of the East region since before Tyson-Bell’s decision, wrote in an email: “It appears it wasn’t a ‘grant’ regular. The owner must have lived there for 20 years.

Why? Tyson is still waiting for the answer.

Since living less than 10 years, Rocky Mount – ostensibly on behalf of the Down Home East Consortium – says the $ 70,000 balance is due and payable and wants him and his two siblings to pay the balance or sign a new loan by May 31.

Varney told the Telegram that there were several options for Tyson and his brothers:

  • Sign new loan papers.
  • Have a family member who meets HUD income requirements to occupy the property for the next 10 years.
  • Repay the $ 70,000 to the consortium.
  • Get a loan using the house as collateral to void the trust deed.

Tyson says his mother would never have signed anything that could have put his house in danger.

“She worked hard for everything she had. She worked 33 years at Wayne’s (dry cleaning) and lived at 601B Evans, around the corner, ”he says, gesturing southeast. “She bought this place (a double lot) in 1994 when her daughter was killed in a car crash on her way home from North Carolina Central. She took that insurance money and bought this property and a Corsica from 1994, so that she could come and go to work and go to church.

Tyson told Tarboro Ward 8 Councilman Tate Mayo and Catherine Grimm, the town’s planning director, that he felt his mother was forced to sign a 20-year-old promissory note on October 27 because her house had been demolished on September 22 and that it was. worried about having accommodation.

Varney dismissed this theory, telling Tyson that the house her mother bought with the proceeds of her insurance payment would never have been demolished without her first signing the appropriate documents.

And while there is no documentation, in a meeting with Varney, Cornelia Magee and Kendra Silver on April 29, Silver, who is the only employee left in the department since Estella Tyson-Bell signed her papers, said there had been another promissory note that was thrown away because of what Tyson remembered her as “mis-spacing and so on.”

The next day, Varney wrote to Tyson, stating: “Regarding the earlier promissory note we discussed at our meeting yesterday, we have no physical evidence to prove that a promissory note was signed. before your mother’s house was demolished. All we have is the memory of Kendra, which you heard firsthand yesterday.

He decided to move only at the feet of Tyson’s mother.

“The consortium did not require that the promissory note or trust deed be executed prior to demolition,” Varney wrote. “It was your mother’s choice. She could have delayed moving her home, which would have delayed the demolition until the documents were signed … “

But why these 20 years and why was it not an “ordinary grant” as Harris wrote?

In today’s vernacular, these questions attract crickets for answers.

Varney told the Telegram, as well as Mayo, that the consortium is looking to recover the $ 70,000 so it can be reinvested in the county.

Mayo, the only elected official to date to fight for Tyson and his late mother’s property, wonders how she could be reinvested.

“Mr. Varney told me when I spoke to him that Rocky Mount was pouring into a $ 500,000 fund to reimburse the county for funds that had been misused,” Mayo said. “How do we know that money that Tarboro was supposed to have gotten from this program, but didn’t, will return to our community? ”

The consortium continues to lose members, as Dortches, Nashville, Nash County and Tarboro have all pulled out – or attempted to pull out.

Tarboro submitted documents in January 2020 indicating their intention to step down, but Rocky Mount failed to submit them before the deadline.

While Dortches did not provide a reason for its withdrawal to the Telegram, two or three of the others cited a lack of funding allocated by the consortium.

Dortches and Nash County withdrew from the consortium in late 2018, while Tarboro and Nashville withdrew in 2020.

Grimm said she spoke with other communities participating in the HUD (not DEHC) program and asked them what they would do in a situation where the owner died before the required residency was reached.

“They all said they would forgive him (the loan),” she told Tyson, Mayo and the Telegram.

Mayo, who spoke – unsuccessfully – to Varney, along with four people at HUD, the office of U.S. Representative GK Butterfield, and the offices of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and U.S. Senator Richard Burr, doesn’t leave much hope for Tyson.

“It’s really sorry that Rocky Mount is doing this, but legally they’ve got it in a bind. Without getting him legal help, I don’t know if this can be stopped, ”he said.

Mayo, who brought the issue to the attention of fellow council members on May 11, wonders why Rocky Mount, who has to pay back $ 500,000 in misused program funds, continues to get more money. He did not learn that answer, but did learn that the deed on Estella Tyson-Bell’s property was never recorded.