Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Senior citizen Bonnie Green is no stranger to public policy reform. For decades, she has watched the houses around her become vacant; she has shaken her head at the effects that poverty and crime have had on her Penrose Neighborhood; and she has prayed every day for a solution. In Spring 2014, Miss Bonnie decided to take action herself. She went to Jefferson City to speak to her state representative and testify at the hearing for House Bill 1659, which would have decriminalized cannabis and offered expungement of criminal records for non-violent drug offenders to help them get treatment and find gainful employment. The bill didn’t pass, but Miss Bonnie didn’t give up. Instead, she put her own name on the ballot and ran for Missouri State Senate. As a first-time candidate, Miss Bonnie received some solid endorsements and earned over 1/3 of the vote. Still, Miss Bonnie kept working for justice and progress in her community as an active member of her church, and even served as a founding member of Project Raise The Roof in 2013.
Miss Bonnie was familiar with the tax auction process and the LRA, and did not want any more of her neighborhood to end up vacant. She had previously entered a payment agreement with the Collector of Revenue to retain the home her parents raised her in, where she still lives to this day. “This little garage here,” Miss Bonnie points to a small structure next to the house, “is where my Daddy used to have his shop.”
In Fall 2015, Miss Bonnie fell ill and was hospitalized for several weeks. She missed a few payments, and now gets around with the help of a walker as she attends physical therapy sessions. After interest and penalties, it will now cost $1237 to keep Miss Bonnie’s family home from being auctioned on August 23rd. At present, the Collector of Revenue makes no exception for homeowners who are on a fixed-income, seniors, veterans, or those who suffer serious illness or financial hardship—something Miss Bonnie hopes to help change, in order to stabilize not only the neighborhood where she grew up, but neighborhoods across the City.
Earlier this summer, after meeting Miss Bonnie, PRTR volunteer Chris B. remarked, “I just can’t believe they’re really gonna take Miss Bonnie’s house. Why? Just because somebody gets old or sick doesn’t mean they should lose their home.”