Dixie’s mortgage on her home was all paid off years ago. But when one of her foster children needed financial help, Dixie decided to take advantage of the unsolicited calls she was getting from lenders, offering her a chance to borrow against her home. The loan Dixie was offered and eventually took was a subprime loan.
For a while the Mitchells managed to make the payments. But then Dixie’s husband had a stroke and lost his job. Right around the same time, the housing market collapsed and Dixie’s loan payments went through the roof. Dixie tried a number of times to negotiate a modification on her loan. Through the federal HAMP program, Dixie was eligible for a modification. But her lender service, Ocwen Financial, couldn’t ever find the paperwork that Dixie submitted again and again, for a modification.
Dixie has long been a member of Washington CAN! and in September, The New Bottom Line decided to partner with Alliance for a Just Society and Washington CAN! to try and save Dixie’s home by pressuring Ocwen Financial to give her a HAMP loan modification. Together, we launched a petition that quickly gathered over 7,000 signatures. Dixie appeared on Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC to talk about her case. Local media reported Dixie’s story in detail.
Then, on Tuesday October 18th, The New Bottom Line and Washington CAN! organized a bi-coastal action at Dixie’s Seattle home and Ocwen Financial’s corporate offices in West Palm Beach, Florida. Community leaders from the Florida-based group Foreclosure Hamlet delivered Dixie’s modification paperwork and the petitions to Ocwen and asked Ocwen to call Dixie to confirm receipt of the paperwork. Meanwhile, Dixie’s supporters rallied at her home in Seattle with a cell phone in hopeful anticipation of a phone call from Ocwen.
While Ocwen did call to confirm receipt of the paperwork, they wouldn’t make any further promises of a modification. Fortunately, a TV station in Seattle had brought along a lawyer to connect with Dixie and her case. The lawyer agreed to take on the case pro bono.
The press in Seattle and Florida reported widely on Tuesday’s action. Dixie remained cautiously optimistic.
Then on Friday night, a phone call from Ocwen Financial. After years of fighting for a loan modification and numerous attempts at working with Ocwen, the Mitchells will finally be able to rest easy. Although no paperwork has yet been signed, Dixie got word that for the duration of the loan she’ll pay a fixed interest rate of 2% and the monthly payments will be within the range she’s able to afford.
While this is a great victory for the Mitchells and for those fighting against foreclosures nationwide, this victory hardly solves the bigger problem of big bank abuse. Millions of people continue to struggle as their homes are taken away through fraudulent foreclosures. The big banks have cost us, but its everyday people who are still picking up the tab.
The New Bottom Line will continue to fight for individual homeowners wherever we can while continuing to work for an economy that works for everyone.
For her part, Dixie says: “It’s not just about me. Millions of families across the country are going through this as well. We won’t stop fighting until we’re able to make the big banks pay their fair share.”
Here’s the video of the petition and paperwork delivery to Ocwen Financial last week: