by Johnesha Harris
City officials, supporters of Aretha Franklin and the current homeowner Vera House appeared in Environmental Court Tuesday morning to get an update on decisions for the small house that the “Queen of Soul” once lived in.
House, who has raised 12 children in the house, continues to pay for the taxes on the house and keep the yard clean, says she will not let a few complications keep her out of this deal moving forward.
“I’ve raised children and grandchildren there,” House said. “My girls and myself consider that place home even though we don’t live there anymore.”
House’s three daughters were present during the hearing supporting their mother in her efforts. The family was not only in the courtroom to ensure their home was protected, but to also keep a promise they made with Franklin to “Keep the home, never let it go” when she came to visit them back in the 90s.
“Whenever you drive by the house you will see that the yard is clean and that is due to my mom’s hard labor making sure the place stays presentable just for fans of Aretha Franklin,” Nicole Waters said.
Patricia A. Rogers, a public relations spokesperson, has helped House get control of the situation in the media. Offering legal counsel from her attorney, Archie Sanders, to Vera House for the Tuesday hearing, Rogers also helped the family get financial support from local churches and rallied fans/community leaders in Detroit to get behind their cause.
Rogers’ brought COGIC Bishop David Hall, COGIC Pastor Renardo Ward and CME Bishop E. Lynn Brown to the courtroom. The matter also got the attention of Dr. Carnita Faye Atwater – the president and CEO of The African American International Museum Foundation – who pledged her allegiance to the cause and vowed to help House in any way she can in the next couple of months.
After hearing ideas for the house and Vera House’s testimony, Judge Patrick Dandridge decided to give the case extra time to be settled.
“This has been in the courts since 2012,” Dandridge said. “There was very little interest then, but it seems that now more people are coming forward with offers. I will give you all 45 days to get everything in order.”
Following the hearing, the family went downstairs to pay $500 on the taxes they still owed to the city. The money came from donations of the supporters for House’s rights in this case.
The House family will now be looking to work with city officials to hopefully keep the house in the family name and preserve it. The next court date is scheduled for October 16.