- Real Estate
Foreclosure - Get Hope
Did this really happen?
A few years ago, I was successful and happy in my chosen career of higher education. I worked under contracts and as an adjunct faculty. Historically, when the economy goes bad people return to college for more training. This seemed to make my decision to stay working as an adjunct logical. I was not bound by the politics of working for any one specific college. I could pick and choose the classes I enjoyed teaching, and knew where my strengths were as an educator. My time was much more flexible and I could work at my own pace. The income was fantastic and I was able to start pulling myself out of debt! I even splurged for some nice landscaping around the house and bought a few luxuries I probably wouldn’t have purchased on a modest teaching income before making the move to teaching college as an adjunct.
Then, it happened; people stopped enrolling in college as the cost kept rising and loans tightened up. My blissful life ran away from me as quickly as it had come. The creditors began calling and the student loan I had went back into deferment. Rather than buying steaks, I began consuming lots of hamburger and cheaper packages of meat. Generic groceries were purchased instead of brand names. New clothes and regular checkups for the car were a thing of the past. The car finally broke down, the son had to quit college, and the bank began calling on the loan for the mortgage.
I grew up in poverty and was proud that I was able to overcome and raise my son in a middle class lifestyle. It was devastating to watch it all slipping away. In over twenty years, I had rarely been late on any bill; but that was in the past. Now, I couldn’t pay every bill, and had to pick and choose who would get their money first. In the beginning, everyone was helpful and worked with me as they seemed to understand my situation. I would wake up every morning to do what little work I did have coming in, then begin the hunt for a job. By the end of the day, my own personal hope and positivity was exhausted and I found myself crying myself to sleep almost every night for quite a while. I was doing everything I knew to keep hold of my life, but it felt like it was spiraling out of control.
Then, it came – the foreclosure note from the bank. I had purchased my home almost 30 years ago and had been diligent in making those payments until this spiral began. I only had about $12,000 left on the mortgage – and now, I was looking at losing it all! I was in such disbelief and everything seemed to be in a fog. On top of that, with all the late payment fees and accumulating interest, my mortgage was back up to over $20,000. Everything I had worked so hard for was now seemingly lost. I felt helpless, hopeless, and scared and suddenly worthless as well. Had everything I believed in been a lie? I believed if you were a hard worker and lived an ethical life, it would pay off. Now, here I am a few years before I SHOULD be retiring comfortably wondering how in the world I will even be able to keep the water running and the electric on – providing I even find a way to have a house with electricity and water.
What is foreclosure?
After a few days of sitting on the pity-pot crying, I pulled myself up and began doing what I do best – researching. I realized I had no understanding of the foreclosure process. If I had to go through it – I should at least know what to expect; so I began researching the concept. Although the process of foreclosure differs between each state in the US, it essentially has the same process. The bank has to inform you that you are in default. Typically, this is issued after 3 months of late payments; however, in my case since I had kept in touch with the bank, it was more like 6 months until I received the note. The Notice of Default letter is only the first step that the bank completes to begin the foreclosure process. As a homeowner, you still own the home at this time. Just because you have received the Notice of Default does not mean that you are in foreclosure, yet. After that, the court still has to determine that the property is in default. This allows the homeowner time to work with getting things back under control. However, if the process continues, and the court date does make the judgment of default, then the property goes up for sale. There is a short time frame between this judgment and the actual sale where the homeowner may still catch up the mortgage and stop the foreclosure process. Even after the sale of the home, the original homeowner can stop the foreclosure process during the redemption period if there is one. All of this information varies by state, but the bottom line here is that the foreclosure process takes time. It was still possible for me to dig myself out of this rut – I had found new hope! Now, all I needed to do was figure out how to stop the process.
How will I avoid foreclosure?
By now, my mortgage was closer to $20,000. I knew I couldn’t ask friends or family for help to catch up on the mortgage unless I had a way to continue making payments once it was caught up. I couldn’t expect them to help with the mortgage if I still didn’t have a full-time job. The same with pulling a loan against my retirement, it wouldn’t have been enough to pay off the mortgage. Plus, I would run the risk of being in the same spot again within a few months without a job and have less retirement income as well. I couldn’t refinance the loan as I had already shot my credit rating and didn’t have a current job. Things began looking desperate again; but I knew there had to be something out there I wasn’t seeing yet!
Another search for “foreclosure prevention” led me to several websites; none of which seemed to be helpful. I saw help for veterans, help for minorities, nothing seemed to fit me! I continued to search day after day until I came across the words “Hardest Hit Fund”. Curious about this government initiative, I clicked on the link provided for the Hardest Hit Fund and was delighted to see (ironically) that Indiana was one of the states hit the hardest in this economic downturn. What I saw on the website was the hope I had been looking for!
Hardest Hit Funding
Hardest Hit Fund
This program established in 2010 provides assistance to struggling homeowners in several states:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington DC
If you live in one of these states, I strongly urge you to visit the US Department of the Treasury website included in my reference list if you are facing foreclosure. This program can help if you have had a significant reduction of income as a result of loss of employment, death of an income-provider, medical emergencies as well as a loss of income due to military service. Each of the states above have initiated a program called Get Hope and that is exactly what they have provided me – hope!
Get Hope Foundation
The process takes a while to get through, but my experience (although scary) has been extremely positive. This organization works with the bank for you as they pull you out of foreclosure while you are applying for the funds. The first task will be to see if you qualify. You start with an online profile, which you can build at this web address: http://www.877gethope.org/questions/#what-will-i-need-to-do-and-why
If you do qualify for the program, you are set up with a counselor. My own counselor’s office was 25 miles away, so I did have to travel to meet with her a couple of times during the process. Once approved, you do have to either volunteer at a non-profit organization or return to school for additional training for a new job. As I am approaching retirement and already have an advanced degree, I knew it would probably make more sense for me to volunteer. Once a week, I volunteer at the local Workforce Development office. Although it was a humiliating experience for me in the beginning, it has turned out to be an experience that has been beneficial!
Homes facing foreclosure
1 out of 200
3,000 homes in one city may face foreclosure within 1 year.
Every 3 months
6 out of 10
Foreclosure is still happening at a high rate.
As for me???
I continue to look for a job, and there are still times where I have to kick myself in the behind when I feel like everything I’ve worked for has been for nothing. But down deep, I still believe that there is something to learn from all this. Maybe the lesson is in humility as I was getting accustomed to getting a little extravagant with my purchases. Maybe the lesson is to be more humble as I was so embarrassed to allow anyone to see that I was in this spiral downward. It took a lot out of me just to write this hub! Maybe the only thing that is supposed to come of this experience was for me to write this hub to help someone else “get hope.” I’m still not sure why I am in this position, but I am. Fortunately, this position is a lot less stressful now as I continue on my path of dreaming and scheming to make a better future for myself.
Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from http://www.877gethope.org/about/
US Department of the Treasury. (2012, December 11). Hardest hit fund. Retrieved from http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/TARP-Programs/housing/hhf/Pages/default.aspx