Homeless Woman Deals With Hiccup on Path to Home Ownership

The last month has been a roller coaster ride for a Philadelphia homeless woman on a mission to become a homeowner. 

"I don't give up on things I care about," said Jessica Meyers, 28. "Everybody has problems in their life. It's whether you use it as a positive thing or negative thing (like a crutch)."

Meyers has until Sept. 15 to come up with $9,800 to purchase the West Philadelphia home she spent eight years in as a squatter, and then legitimately won during a Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) auction last month.

On July 16, PHA auctioned 196 homes to reduce its stock. Meyers' winning bid was $8,000, plus $800 in auction fees and $1,000 in closing costs. But even though she won the right to live in the home she's been squatting in, fixing up and hosting others at for almost a decade, right now she doesn't have the money to pay for it.

In order to participate in the auction, she had to borrow $2,500 for the deposit. Her friend, Amira Dvorah, who she calls her fairy godmother stepped in.

Meyers turned to a crowd-funding campaign hoping the goodwill from strangers would help her come up with the rest of the money. She used Indiegogo, a popular crowd-funding website, to raise the funds. At the time of the PHA auction in July, about $3,000 had been donated.

Things were heading in the right direction, then abruptly, days after the PHA auction, Indiegogo froze the online auction and returned all the money raised to the donors. The $3,000 was gone.

"It was discouraging but I'm not going to let that stop me," said Meyers. 

The Syracuse native started scouring the web that same day and turned to a British crowd-funding site, GoGetFunding, to continue her campaign. She sent an email to her donors advising them that their funds were being returned by Indiegogo. She asked them to donate again on the new platform. To date, she's raised $2,800 on GoGetFunding and is about $7,000 away from her goal.

Meyers believes someone reported her campaign to Indiegogo out of spite. In the fine print of their terms, there is a clause about real estate. 

This week, Indiegogo responded to an NBC10 inquiry about Meyers' Indiegogo campaign with an about-face, issuing this statement:

"This campaign is indeed in compliance with Indiegogo's terms of service. We've reinstated the campaign and are waiving all fees."

At present, $682 has been raised as part of the new Indiegogo campaign. With two funding portals active, frequent trips to the flea market and a car wash plan in the works, Meyers believes her homeowner dreams will soon come true.

She's hoping the car wash will help her close the deal. She's written to PHA to ask them if she can make use of their parking lot at 47th and Baltimore on Aug. 31 and the following two Saturdays.  A-Space, a neighboring community center, has offered Meyers their support. 

Getting the money together is just the tip of the iceberg. Then she'll have to figure out how to pay for some much-needed improvements at the home, which could easily require a few thousand more dollars.

Since going public with her story and answering Craigslist posts for free contracting materials, Meyers said she's received death threats. But she insists none of that bothers her. She's been contacted by a production company and is considering shooting a pilot show on her life, that is after she can call herself a homeowner. 

Meyers hopes sharing her ordeal will help change the public's perception of the homeless. 

"We are not bums," she added. "I'm living here to make a social point. I'm doing something good for that community and nationwide." 

Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, sarah.glover@nbcuni.com or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.

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