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City of St. Pete sues family to force foreclosure of dead mom’s home

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The City of St. Pete is suing four surviving children of a deceased homeowner in midtown St. Pete for rights to foreclose on the home owned by the late Viola Hall.

According to lawsuit documents filed this month in Pinellas County Courts, the City of St. Pete issued approximately $50,000 to Hall as part of its home rehabilitation loan program on the property located at 1018 Melrose Avenue South.

The city alleges Hall’s 2011 death triggered a default on the loans issued in 2000.

The loans were issued to Hall after years of crime left the home in disrepair with an owner incapable of making needed improvements and repairs on her own.

The house was built in 1986. In 1990, Hall’s daughter, Dorothy Hall, was shot in the stomach following a nearby brawl between two teenagers in the neighborhood. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Dorothy Hall was seriously injured, but did not die.

In 1997 Hall’s husband Roosevelt Hall passed away. By 2000, the year Hall acquired the loans, Hall “could see stars through her roof.” Part of the money loaned paid for those repairs.

In 2002 more stray bullets pierced the home’s eaves. As many as 10 people occupied the home, but none of them was employed at the time, leaving repairs untended.

Three of Hall’s children died between 2006 and 2008. In 2011, Hall passed away.

According to the lawsuit, the city believes two of the four surviving children, Joseph and Johnny Lee Hall, were in prison. However, prison records show Johnny Lee Hall was released in December.

The other two surviving children named in the lawsuit are Roosevelt Hall Jr. and Patricia Ann Hall. All four were notified of the loan default and acceleration of payments in 2013.

It’s not clear whether any of the children began making payments on the loan following the notification or exactly how much of the original loan amounts are still due.

What is stated in the lawsuit is that the home has $76,000 in unpaid principal and interest.

It’s also not clear whether the city would allow the defendants to avoid the lawsuit or if any of the children are currently occupying the home.

Midtown St. Pete is considered one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and is the continued focus of another city program called neighborhood stabilization that allows the city to acquire foreclosed properties to remove possible blight and improve conditions in the troubled neighborhood. That program is part of a larger federal Neighborhood Stabilization program.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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