When Taura Brown was evicted from her Detroit home in April, she feared she’d lose more than her house.
She had stage-five kidney disease, and without a transplant, her days were numbered.
There are strict requirements to get a transplant, and one of them is stable housing.
The owner of the home, Rev. Faith Fowler, knew she needed a transplant and evicted her anyway, Brown says.
“I could have easily not gotten a kidney,” Brown, 43, tells Metro Times from a hospital bed. “She didn’t even have the decency to see if I was going to die before taking my home.”
Brown can’t explain how she still qualified for the transplant, saying she sees it as “divine.” She only knows that earlier this week, she got some amazing news. While having lunch with activists and friends last Sunday, May 7, Brown’s cell phone rang, and her sister shared that the doctors had an available kidney.
“It was a total shock,” Brown says. “The doctors thought it was a perfect match. They wanted to know if I was interested. I said, ‘Yes.’”
On Monday morning, Brown received the life-saving transplant. The kidney started working immediately. But the following morning, a hematoma formed around the transplant, and she was rushed into emergency surgery.
Since then, Brown says she has fully recovered and is feeling more energy than she has experienced in a long time.
“I didn’t have this energy before,” Brown says. “I had a bunch of fatigue and crankiness.”
Brown could be released from the hospital as early as Thursday. But her struggles are far from over.
She needs to find an affordable place to live. Since her eviction, which turned violent when bailiffs broke through a human wall of activists, she has bounced from her boyfriend’s home to her sister’s house.
“I never intended to live with a man I wasn’t married to,” Brown says. “I want to take care of myself. I have to find a place to live.”
Since January 2020, Brown had lived in a 317-square-foot house that was part of a community of unique tiny houses in the Dexter-Linwood neighborhood on the city’s west side. Built by Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), an anti-poverty nonprofit, the community of homes — ranging from 250 to 400 square feet — is designed for lower-income Detroiters and youth aging out of foster care. The goal was to provide permanent homes to people whose families never built generational wealth.
When the houses were built, CCSS promised that tenants who paid rent for seven years would receive the deed to their home, mortgage-free. Brown, who says she never missed her rent payments, won’t have that opportunity.
Brown was evicted after blowing the whistle on problems at CCSS. She accused the nonprofit and its director, Rev. Faith Fowler, of fraud and micromanaging residents. She also alleged CCSS never intended to provide permanent homes for tenants.
Fowler insisted she evicted Brown because she was living with her boyfriend at his riverfront apartment, a claim that Brown adamantly denies.
Fowler’s spokeswoman Marcy Hayes previously told Metro Times that Brown was faking the severity of her illness. Some media reports described Brown as “allegedly” having kidney disease.
“If there is any doubt that I had kidney disease, there’s a big old scar on my stomach and a nurse who comes every 30 minutes,” Brown says.
It has been more than a month since the eviction, and Brown says she still hasn’t received her security deposit.
Brown says she’s committed to fighting for other residents who are lured into false rent-to-own promises at homes across the city.
“Now that I have this kidney and I have more energy, I’m going to see about passing legislation for people who were promised they could rent to own,” Brown says. “It’s a scam happening in a lot of places.”
For now, Brown is soaking up her second chance at life.
“I’m so happy,” Brown says. “Everybody has come together and really supported me. The kidney was a life saver.”
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