Disabled Woman Facing Homelessness
I have been documenting my experience as a 52 year old Slidell, Louisiana woman who is disabled and trying to acquire assistance with housing programs from our Federal Government with an eviction looming from GMAC Mortgage.
My husband and I taped an interview with "Action Reporter" Bill Capo from WWL-TV Channel 4 (New Orleans). On Thursday, June 16th, 2010, this feature aired on the 10:00 p.m. news. The edited result can be viewed on line at the WWL-TV web site under "Action Reports" or type in their search engine “Karen Pettit” and it will take you directly to my story.
I was in hospice care last year, and during this time my husband lost his job. As I was terminal, my husband kept our housing situation from me. When my husband notified GMAC Mortgage about our hardship, they said they were sympathetic to our plight, and we had a couple of options. They could tack the amount we were behind to the back of our mortgage, raise our premium until we caught up, or submit us to several of the bail out programs our government is providing for folks like us. My husband's mistake was trusting in GMAC to follow through with their suggestions. As they had all of our financial information, there wasn't really anything for us to do but wait to hear back from GMAC.
I became painfully aware of our housing situation when the sheriff came to our door in January of this year with a foreclosure notice from our mortgage company, GMAC. Even with that, when my husband kept calling them. GMAC was always reassuring, that they didn't want the house back...that they were still in the process of submitting us. We kept in contact with GMAC throughout the next several months and the response was always the same--that GMAC hadn’t heard back from any of the available programs. Again, our regret is trusting what GMAC said they would do. We were led to believe that one of GMAC’s suggested options would remedy our situation.
The sale of our home was set for April 28th, 2010. On the 27th, GMAC informed us they needed our financial information (that we were told they already had). My husband scrambled around to fulfill their request, faxed 9 pages to GMAC, and then called to confirm that GMAC had received the information.
The next day, we were told that we were "denied" by everyone and we lost our home. Our foreclosure took place on April 28, 2010, right after we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
I was a little suspicious, as they certainly didn't have enough time (literally overnight) to submit us anywhere. I have repeatedly asked for the documentation of who they submitted us to and why we were denied, to no avail.
One day, I got "Mary" on the phone from GMAC. With me on one phone and my husband on the other, she informed us that we were never submitted to anyone...so there was no denial! Conveniently, she did state that they had received the paperwork they requested at the last minute, but it was dated the 29th--the day after the foreclosure. We knew that we provided this on the 27th. I recorded this conversation with Mary, and told her I was recording her. Still, Mary said that "everything is in the computer...and there were no submissions or denials". We were stunned.
This presents a real problem for us. If GMAC had no intention of working with us, they should have informed us so we could pursue other programs on our own. Because of this mortgage company’s deception, we were denied the opportunity and right to apply for any loan modification programs that were available, and possibly save our home.
Currently, in the state of Louisiana, there are no housing programs for the non-elderly disabled (the fastest and largest growing group in our homeless population). There are programs for children (and there should be) and seniors (and there should be) and the developmentally disabled (and there should be), but nothing in Louisiana for the non-elderly disabled. However there is a federal program from HUD titled "Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Disabled". However, for some unknown reason, the State of Louisiana didn’t apply for this funding. And currently, neither our state or federal government are offering any housing vouchers, rental assistance, or permanent supportive housing at this time and then there is a waiting list for services. However, I did discover one local program being offered by a non-profit organization, but first I have to become homeless and then there is a waiting list. I have a hospital room set up in my home...where will my equipment go?
The funny thing is, Mr. Capo spoke with the attorney representing our mortgage company, GMAC. She confirmed that our home had been foreclosed on and we will soon be evicted. Mr. Capo asked what will happen to our home, will it be put up for sale? Her answer shocked him--our home is becoming a HUD home! He has suggested to all parties involved that we be allowed to stay put and has now reached out to HUD about this situation. We'll see...
I have carefully documented every single person or agency that I have spoken with since that dark day in January. And, besides the television exposure, this email was sent to everyone in my address book, asking for my story to be forwarded to everyone they know. And it was sent to any federal, state and local government offices, and every organization that I could find that deals with advocacy, disability issues, and consumer affairs. I also contacted our local media, as well as newspapers, magazines, talk shows and news programs nationally. In addition, I have filed formal complaints with the Better Business Bureau, The Federal Trade Commission, House Financial Services Committee, and The Department of Justice Civil Rights/Disability Rights.
I volunteer one day a week at a nonprofit organization working with the severely disabled. If nothing else, perhaps some good will come out of all this through my tenacity. Maybe I can advocate for my disabled students.
I am not someone with any "pull", but I have a voice. And there are so many folks out there just like me that are frustrated with trying to stay healthy and not stressed while facing chronic illness and/or end of life issues. And some are too tired and sick and just give up after the first 5 "No's"--I've heard 55 "No's" and I'm not going away...at least on my own volition.
My husband is a seminary graduate. If GMAC will lie to a minister and his terminal wife, I guess no one is safe. Maybe what they did on paper wasn't illegal, but I would take exception with the deception and the moral corruption.
I would invite anyone who reads this to take the time to search on the internet "Consumer Complaints Against GMAC Mortgage". Our story will definitely sound familiar as this has been a pattern with GMAC and their customers. And our government gave them a whole lot of our tax dollars to bail them out and better serve our financial needs.
To date, we are existing on my disability payment of $800 a month--for both of us. Yet, we have been told on several occasions that we make “too much money” to qualify for Food Stamps or Medicaid.
Please pass this on and ask our government to stand up for our disabled. In addition, we need better laws to stop the unethical and predatory practices of our mortgage companies.
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