The audacity of my tenacity

Abby Bulldog

I can relate to the bulldog: the definition of tenacity. This is Abby, who I happen to be dogsitting this week. She’s just as loveable as she looks!

Since my layoff from my last full-time salaried-with-benefits position in November 2008, I’ve had the audacity to continue to pay my mortgage, taxes, and condo fees on time, in spite of my inability to do so. How I’ve done it is complicated, and is the subject and motivation of this blog, which best reads from the beggining.

But last month was the first time I was late <***SOB***>. It was horrible to see that invoice from my mortgage servicing company with a late fee of $36.30, which has been tacked on to what I owe, accruing at a low interest rate of 3.375%.

I would have missed the payment entirely if it hadn’t been for “A Friend.” Someone I know (apparently), or at least someone who reads this blog, sent me an anonymous money order drawn on the Bank of America in Billerica (a MA town) for $1000. It was post-marked generically from MA, and was marked from “A Friend.” A friend, indeed! To this saintly person (who I actually suspect is among my atheist friends), I thank you from the bottom on my heart. You bought me time while I wrangle with my mortgage company to qualify for help through the Home Affordable Unemployed Program. The HAMP program was initiated by President Obama to give incentive to mortgage providers to help struggling homeowners stay in their homes.

I call my bank every week, hoping to get all my paperwork in on time, and to receive a modification or a reduced mortgage rate while I’m unemployed / underemployed. But I’ve had no luck.
Here’s what I’ve been through so far:

Mar. 5, 2010: Home-Affordable-Mortgage-Program (HAMP) application DENIED. Reason: “Insufficient income / insufficient collateral.” (No $#!*!)

Aug. 16, 2010: HAMP application DENIED. This time, I got three different responses from my mortgage provider with reasons for rejection. Get this: Reason 1: “Your loan is current / not at risk of default.” (That’s right–they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t late on my payments.) Reason 2: “Your debt to income ratio is too high.” (You think?? Duh!) Reason 3: “A HAMP modification would have resulted in excessive forbearance.” (Meaning: You can’t afford your crappy 2BR condo so we’d rather just take it from you.)

Oct. 2010: HAMP DENIED again. This time, the reason was a cryptic “Modification is not allowed under current Pooling Servicing Agreements.” After this, I just quit applying. And I worked for six months in 2011, so was able to continue to pay my mortgage.

June 11, 2012: DENIED. AGAIN. Since my last application, the government had added another program category specifically to help unemployed homeowners–the Home Affordable Unemployed Program (HAUP). My application was denied with a reason stating: “You did not provide documentation indicating that you currently receive unemployment benefits in the time period indicated.”

This was particularly frustrating, because I most certainly did provide my benefit determination letter (not to mention bank statements and a pile of other documents). But the mortgage service company identified an error in my lag period (a date range of “01-01-12 to 12-31-11”–an illogical range). Unfortunately, the state of MA says it wasn’t an error. Basically American Home Mortgage Servicing rejected my application because they wouldn’t accept my explanation (that I received from the state) saying a lag period starts with the end of the last quarter of your benefits, and ends with the end of the benefit year you worked in, i.e., I don’t have a lag period.

Around this time, I got the $1000 money order from “A Friend.” So I was able to pay my mortgage, albeit late.

I am now in my FIFTH application process. American Home Mortgage Servicing sold my mortgage (they probably made a solid profit and were ready to get out) to Homeward Residential. My paperwork “appears to be in order.” I’ve heard this before. As in the past, my account is “under review.” Around September 9th, I should have (another) final decision on whether they’ll reduce my payments and refinance my balance at a lower interest rate.

I hope (against hope) that all this effort and the $1000 from “A Friend” weren’t in vain. I try not to dwell on the fear lurking there. I really shouldn’t bother to go there, to my rather substantiated fears that in spite of that ridiculously generous gift, Homeward Residential will again determine that $216/week of unemployment benefits and a bit of freelance income is absolutely not enough for me and my son to afford this small condo, which I could easily afford when I bought it with tens of thousands of dollars of savings and a comfy salary in 2005. I don’t dig very deep into the terror and dread that we will suffer the loss of our home before my son can graduate (two years left!) via short sale or deed-in-lieu, or worse, foreclosure (as happened to my son’s father already. Isn’t one traumatic loss of a home enough for one kid in a lifetime??). I really have the audacity to believe that I will DENY the bank the pleasure of being the recipient of all my savings, all my efforts, all my goodwill, and particularly, all the good and generous donations I’ve received that have helped me stay in my home.

The audacity of my tenacity.

To the bank, I say:

DENIED.

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