A California woman is facing foreclosure from Bank of America after taking out a loan to make her home more accessible for her disabled daughter, shining light on yet another improper foreclosure practice perpetuated by America’s largest banks.
Dirma Rodriguez fell behind on her original loan after spending thousands of dollars installing tile floors and a wheelchair ramp to make it easier for Ingrid Ortiz, her daughter who has cerebral palsy, to move around the house. When Rodriguez fell behind on her original loan, Bank of America offered her a trial modification. Even though Rodriguez kept up with those payments for more than a year, the bank sold her home at auction, and the new owner is pursuing eviction, the Los Angeles Times reports:
Rodriguez took out a loan to retrofit her house for her special-needs daughter. After she fell behind on her payments, the Bank of America lowered her monthly obligation, but then sold the house at a foreclosure auction last September. The new owner, a house flipper from El Segundo called West Ridge Rentals, moved to evict the family. [...]
Bank of America inherited Rodriguez’s loan from Countrywide. After her payment jumped, and she fell behind, the bank placed her in a trial loan modification. She made her payments faithfully for 13 months and was awaiting a permanent modification package when the bank sold her home out from under her, she says.
Rodriguez’s story, unfortunately, is not unique. Thanks to the process known as dual-tracking, banks have thrown thousands of homeowners into foreclosure even while offering those same homeowners loan modifications. As a result, homeowners who were willing to make new, lower payments to stay in their homes are often evicted anyway. Dual tracking, along discriminatory, fraudulent, and deceptive practices, led Bank of America and other Wall Street banks to settle a $25 billion suit with the federal government last month.
Trial modifications like the one given to Rodriguez, whose loan is backed by Freddie Mac, are supposed to last three months before the terms of the modification are made permanent if all payments are made. Rodriguez says she made 13 consecutive payments, but Bank of America told the Times that it still wants to be sure she can afford the payments before it makes the modification permanent. “I don’t want a free house,” Rodriguez told the Times. “I just want to make my payments.”
Luckily for Rodriguez, local activists have taken up her cause. Occupy Fights Foreclosure helped her stave off a scheduled eviction on March 26, and the company that bought her home at auction is willing to return it if Bank of America pays it back. The bank, which set the whole process in motion, is now considering giving her a modification that would allow her to keep the home.