Sioux City resident is suing the city for continuous neglect on sinkholes threatening her home

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“If I talk about it too much, I will cry. A home is your home,” says Joyce Downing, a Sioux City resident. 

Joyce bought her home on Pierce street in 1992 and lived here for 25 years with her husband. 

“We loved it here, really loved it. My husband loved sitting on the back porch and watching all the animals. It’s home,” says Downing. 

In 2010, a sinkhole formed on her property that was rooted to a storm drain placed underneath her home. 

In 2013, another one. Followed by another in 2014, and several more each year. 

Now, she tells “9 Investigates” she’s suing the City of Sioux City. 

“I’ve been at the city council three different times. The first time, they didn’t even know I existed and I guess they chose not to help me. Because I’m here now and now I have a lawyer and we’re suing the city. Could have had this all resolved if they just would have helped me,’ says Downing. 

“She’s a widow and she’s wanted to live in this home and make memories with her grand kids and her children and that’s kind of been taken away from her at this point,” says Harold K. Widdison, Joyce’s lawyer. 

Joyce has been living in her son’s basement since 2014 but has continued to pay a mortgage on her home. Even though she no longer lives here, she has paid more than $36,000 in mortgage payments and wants the city to reimburse her for this unwanted expense. 

“We want them to reimburse her for the expenses that she’s incurred from moving away from home, living away from home. They’re in a better position to fix this problem because they were in the position to prevent this problem in the first place,” says Widdison. 

The city’s neglect has led to her house beginning to sink and the roof and walls are forming long cracks from the constant depression. 

“I wonder how many other people in Sioux City are having this problem too that’s going unnoticed, undetected and they’re living with the same hell as I am,” says Downing. 

Joyce says back when the sinkholes first started appearing, she went to city council and wanted to settle with the city purchasing her home for $130,000. Joyce’s home is actually worth around $150,000. But the city rejected her proposal, and over the years, matters got worse, which leads to where she stands today. 

“She’s not a greedy person, she just wants what’s fair. There’s a problem. She has to give up her dream of living in this home and we would just like the city to step up and make it right,” says Widdison. 

“It never was my intention to sue anybody. But I couldn’t get anywhere,” says Downing. 

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