BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WXYZ) — It is not every day you see a protest along the streets of Birmingham, but on Thursday, there was a rally outside the Baldwin House Senior Living apartments.
Supporters of a former mayor made it clear: They don’t want her evicted.
Protesters called on the Baldwin House to make things right with former Birmingham Mayor Dorothy Conrad as she waved from above showing thanks.
They say the problems started when the 88-year-old started telling her neighbors the city provided that parking and Baldwin House didn’t have the right to charge for it.
“Baldwin was given free spaces for parking and they have been charging for 17 years $90 a month. This is what I heard, and Dorothy was the whistleblower,” Keely O'Brien Tyson, a protester, said.
Baldwin House confirmed to 7 Action News it now is trying to resolve the parking problem with the city.
“When the City of Birmingham brought the parking situation to our attention in June of this year, we acknowledged that there may be an issue, and immediately began conversations in a collaborative manner with the Birmingham City Attorney in an effort to fairly resolve any related matters as quickly as possible. This is a complex issue involving an agreement drafted prior to the construction of Baldwin House some 30 years ago. Consequently, we are continuing to work through this issue with the City to resolve it amicably,” the apartment complex said in a statement.
Baldwin House also confirmed it threatened Conrad with eviction if she didn’t sign a new lease.
“Baldwin House Management is perplexed as to why any demonstrators were out here this morning. The fact is that Ms. Conrad has had, through her attorney, a lease to sign,” Baldwin House said in a statement.
Conrad’s attorney told 7 Action News that the new lease Conrad was given in September had language that bans solicitation and says that includes “in-person or written communication with Baldwin House residents and/or their family members.”
“If she is not allowed to communicate with her neighbors at all, I have a problem with that. You should be able to communicate with your neighbors. Or go to them and say, I have an issue, do you have the same issue?” Joe Wloszek, Conrad’s attorney, said.
“She has without a doubt been the model of an engaged public citizen. For her to do what she has always done and then for you to try to evict her is shameful, disgusting and infuriating,” Chuck Miss, an Oakland County commissioner, said as he protested.
“Baldwin House never refused to define solicitation nor did Baldwin House ever tell Ms. Conrad that she was not allowed to speak with other members of the community. Why Baldwin Houses actions have been characterized otherwise is unknown to us,” Baldwin House responded in a statement.
Baldwin House told 7 Action News all new residents were subject to the new lease language that Dorothy received, indicating she was not being singled out.
Conrad’s attorney shared images of leases recently signed that did not include that language. When 7 Action News asked Baldwin House about that, we were told that market rate residents had the same lease. Some residents are not market rate. It was not specified why the leases were different.
Shortly after we questioned the company’s statements, Conrad’s attorney says he got a call. He says he was told Dorothy will be given a lease he says without a ban on talking with her neighbors. She feels comfortable signing it, ending the conflict and fears she would be evicted.
This whole situation in the meantime has caught the attention of city hall, where there is talk of ordinances that would make it harder to evict people.