November 30, 2016
From Foreclosure to Home Recovery
“CEI is here to help people like me get back on our feet. My home did not become part of the foreclosure statistics of Maine.”–Karen Griffin, CEI Housing Counseling client
One month after a divorce, Karen Griffin was served foreclosure papers on her Swan’s Island home, a financial burden that seemed too great to overcome. Although filing for bankruptcy looked like the only option, Karen was determined to find another solution.
She first reached out to the State of Maine Consumer Protection Agency, which referred her to CEI. She quickly learned that government programs existed to help save her home from foreclosure.
The process began with a tremendous amount of paperwork, much of which was unfamiliar to Karen. After gathering months of financial statements, payroll stubs, and income status forms, she filed for mediation to help the process move forward. Mediation provided a vehicle for Karen’s voice to be heard, with assistance from a representative of the State of Maine, and CEI Housing Counseling & Education Director Jason Thomas.
“That entire year I stayed in limbo just doing everything I was asked to do, but living in a state of not knowing what the end result would be. Jason not only helped me assemble the paperwork, but he was on the other end of the phone when I gave in to fear and confusion as to why CitiMortgage would not make a decision,” said Karen.
Over a year after being served foreclosure papers, Karen was approved for a temporary plan requiring her to make three mortgage trial payments before final approval. During the payment period, Jason counseled her through legal struggles regarding signatures and ownership. Jason also advised her to return to a full time job as a civil service worker as she continued to make mortgage payments beyond the trial period. After over 17 months, Karen received a letter stating that she was no longer in foreclosure.
“This is not a handout by any stretch,” said Karen. “CEI and Jason Thomas were invaluable in this endeavor. Very little is available to the individual American when dealing with large banks and corporations. The fact I am now making a $1,419 mortgage payment for a home that I did not want to lose through bankruptcy is a testament to the fact I was not looking for handout-just help and guidance to save my home. It took a whole lot more than the [federal] Making Home Affordable program to make this happen. That was the door, and the CEI team that got me through.”
“While each homeowner’s situation and challenge is unique, Karen’s story is one that has been all too familiar in the years since the housing crisis,” said CEI’s Jason Thomas. “Servicers and banks unprepared for the great numbers of people that rightfully seek assistance often had cases ‘fall through the cracks’ and become elongated beyond all reasonable expectation. While many national lenders would try to assuage borrowers’ fears, it’s much easier said than done to simply ‘relax’ when it’s your own home under threat of foreclosure. Our constant hope is that we can assist Maine homeowners in navigating what can be a challenging and confusing process at a very stressful time in their lives.”