While going through the loss of her grandfather, it could have been very easy for Keisha Credit to fall into the multitude of traps that were designed to take her inherited multi-million dollar home.
The home was passed on to the 32-year-old entrepreneur in 2020, after the death of her grandfather, Daniel Duncan, who purchased the home within the Central District in 1953.
Just one day after his passing, Credit received a handwritten letter requesting to purchase her home below market value.
“My home was solicited not just by ‘big corps’ and ‘real estate companies’ looking to lowball by mailers,” Credit told BuzzFeed. “This [handwritten letter] was from a neighbor in my community…the day after my grandfather’s body was carried across his threshold for the last time.”
She continued: “We are one of the oldest families on my block…he knew us. They have certain interests for this community, and they wanted it known. Anyone who would offer condolences and then ask to buy your home in the same letter has clear intentions.”
Credit would go on to receive up to three letters per week and she recognized this was gentrification attempting to take ownership of her family’s long legacy.
By definition, the Urban Displacement Project describes gentrification as the “process of neighborhood change that includes economic change in a historically disinvested neighborhood — by means of real estate investment and new higher-income residents moving in — as well as demographic change — not only in terms of income level, but also in terms of changes in the education level or racial make-up of residents.”
Credit takes this one step further and explains how gentrification can take forms in other ways such as bullying in order to make residents uncomfortable. This happened firsthand in the Central District, which was redlined resulting in many minorities seeking homes being rejected by land and homeowners. So, they were forced into pocketed neighborhoods.
This caused the number of Black people in the Central District to decline by over 50 percent by 2015, according to The Seattle Times.
“While many of our city neighborhoods have gentrified, nowhere more than in the CD is there such a pronounced racial component to that transformation,” wrote Seattle Times columnist, Gene Balk.
Credit refused to have history rewritten. She has received offers that are half a million dollars below the market value for her home, with one offer marked at $800,000.
“That’s good money, but absolutely not. It’s disrespectful and assumes I don’t know the value of my home,” Credit told BuzzFeed.
Various letters masked themselves as a worker from the IRS writing false claims that the home was behind on its taxes.
“When I first became owner of this home, I got a couple of letters talking about taxes being behind and…they were all talking about reverse mortgages, and scammy things like, ‘call us for help.’ We were not behind on our taxes,” Credit told BuzzFeed. “Handling the affairs after someone has passed required so much time and paperwork. There’s accounts you don’t know about, policies, taxes, all this stuff. So, to get a letter saying I am behind on my house and I may lose it? Yeah, I was taking that serious.”
Fortunately, she credits her family for educating her on the importance of property ownership and they have encouraged her to preserve the family assets as they too have watched too many of their friends lose their homes from the very same tactics.
“What I see in my neighborhood is that most of us have left, and not ‘happily,'” Credit told the outlet. “These stories are not rare; the sorrow of families losing their family homes ripples in this community. It is FELT.”