Detroit man with Aretha Franklin personal items gets house saved

Posted at 11:20 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 23:20:54-05

A Detroit man believing he was in danger of losing his home, thought the only way he could save it was by selling old Aretha Franklin personal items, some sensitive information. But this father can sleep a little easier tonight.

James Riggins thought today would be the day his house in Detroit would go into foreclosure, leaving his family of nine in trouble.

Riggins told us, "My next step right now is to find a job. It's hard for a guy my age to find a job. But at least I can breathe now."

He's the same man we talked to two weeks ago, who re-discovered a whole bunch of old Aretha Franklin stuff. We're talking old masters, check books, tax returns, and contracts, things he thought he could use to save his house.

But after Action News aired the story, strangers started asking how they could help with his back taxes from 2015 and 2016.

One did come through, sending more than $1,200 to the Wayne County Treasurer's office. That woman told us she wants to remain anonymous

Riggins says, " I thank God for you and the donor. I don't know what to say, it's amazing.

He's like hundreds and hundreds of folks throughout Wayne county, scared their dream of owning a house would be taken away once they start falling behind. The Wayne County Treasurer tells us many don't understand it takes three years of unpaid taxes before foreclosure sets in.

Eric Sabree says, "We're in the business of collecting taxes, and helping people stay in their homes. The only way people can pay taxes, is if they are there."

Sabree says there are many options for residents who fall behind on their taxes, and it all starts with contacting the Treasurer's Office. He says there are payment plans to keep people in their homes. And by the way, Riggins now wants to give Franklin's stuff back to her, so if she's reading or watching, we can set that up.