Appraisal Management News

Homeowner Taps ‘Occupy’ Protest to Avoid Foreclosure

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Kari Huus, msnbc

California woman’s case may show how movement can use its muscle against banks.

 

LA PUENTE, Calif. — Rose Gudiel and her family were squatters in their own home. They had lost a two-year battle against foreclosure, and the eviction date had arrived. They hunkered down in the house on Sept. 28, surrounded by dozens of homeowner advocates and friends, hoping to stave off forcible removal.

“(The bank) kept saying we can’t do anything. Your case is closed,” said Gudiel. “Our stand was, ‘No, we’re not leaving. This is our home. We worked hard for it and we’re just not going to leave.’”

But instead of the anticipated confrontation, there was a dramatic reversal of fortune. Fanny Mae canceled the eviction notice and offered the Gudiels a loan modification that could enable them keep their home.

Why? Fannie Mae and loan servicer OneWest won’t discuss the case. But nonprofit advocates say a series of bold protests — with reinforcements from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement — and a spate of media interest put Rose in the limelight and forced the banks to back down.

It was a small victory — and Gudiel still has to finalize her deal with the bank — but one that Southern California housing activists hope to repeat. It also provides an example of how the sprawling "Occupy" movement — often criticized for its lack of focus — can lend muscle to specific goals pursued by organizations and individuals.

Gudiel’s version of the foreclosure on the 1,200-square-foot home she has shared with her parents and a brother in this working-class suburb of Los Angeles since 2005 is starkly at odds with the limited information provided by the banks.

According to Gudiel, when she tried to make the $2,500-a-month mortgage payment two weeks late in November 2009, OneWest refused the payment and instructed her to pursue a loan modification, a long process that ultimately ended in rejection in January.

Gudiel said she fell behind when the family suffered a tragedy and two financial setbacks: Her brother, Michael, was killed in a drive-by shooting, meaning he was no longer contributing to the mortgage payment. At the same time, Gudiel was temporarily earning less in her job with the California Economic Development Department after being furloughed because of the state budget crisis.

Shortly thereafter, Rose Gudiel’s income returned to normal, and a second brother moved in to help with the mortgage.

Gudiel continued to work through the loan modification process but encountered obstacles at every turn, said Peter Kuhns, director of the Los Angeles branch of Association of Californians for Community Empowerment, a nonprofit that has been working on her case.

“Month after month, she supplied documentation to the bank for the modification,” he said. “At the same time, each month she saved the money she would have used to make the house payments so that she could make back payments (so) at any point OneWest could accept her money.”

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Written by appraisalmanagementnews

October 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

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