Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging My Recession

A note that I wrote in my journal on April 09, 2009:

"Well, swell. We get to watch these heart-wrenching stories about banks forcing families to vacate homes when they have nowhere else to go -- this is STILL the land of the Banks and they do not let you forget it. My nephew and I began a loan modification with BofA last January '08. We were told NOT to pay any mortgage fees while the negotiation was occurring. After three months lo and behold -- foreclosure papers started to arrive because they hadn't gotten any money from us. Meanwhile the mortgage itself was being thrown back and forth between BofA and Freddie Mac ... and a rogue foreclosure cell continued to operate and thrive while we were going through the SECOND ROUND of loan modifications. This rogue cell continued to do what processes in gigantic bureaucracies often do -- despite our successful round of negotiations with BofA (even though they did NOT want to talk with us did NOT want to help us). One day a rogue Realtor who hadn't had a sale in 3 1/2 years received orders (improper documentation, bad procedure, we received no warnings, no notifications) from someone somewhere, and he took it upon himself to seize our home. Suddenly all negotiations stopped -- if my nephew had not persisted and forced them to admit their errors the house would be lost. As it is, we have been locked out of it since last August -- and THIS is AMERICA??? The only reason the bank will even listen to us is because there is a lawyer involved. Who gets lucky and finds the right people?

I found the services of a legally driven loan mod firm (lawyer on board) with a BBB rating of A, and we're moving along nicely. I wanted to sue the Bank for the year of stress that exacerbated my brain weasels (bipolar disorder) to the point where I could not fight to save myself, but my adviser laughed. As if!! I guess whomsoever is stupid enough to sue an entity like BofA gets tied up in court in class action lawsuits that take forever, and the Banks have the resources to make them last forever. Justice isn't an issue with banks -- I can still remember the old "Little Nell" melodramas I learned when I was young -- "if you don't give me the deed to your ranch I'm gonna tie you to the railroad tracks" and the bankers were always, always the villains.

I personally find it unbearable to watch sheriffs or police personnel forcibly removing families from their homes -- last night on the news we saw a desperate, disturbed man robbing a convenience store in front of his child. It was awful, heartbreaking. But what about the trauma inflicted by the presence of the police forcing a family frozen by fear and in denial onto the streets? We need more social workers handling this sort of thing -- or less of this sort of thing. That would be my preference -- I want my Great Society back. Or if you want to call it a Shining City on a Hill -- I don't give a damn. I just want our people to have homes, and by god that includes ME."

That note was written as I said in April. Last week I found out that shortly after I wrote those words, the legal firm I'd mentioned told my nephew that they couldn't help us. The President's new policies apparently don't allow negotiations on already foreclosed-upon properties. (Even if the damned bank took it illegally??) Liberty and JUSTICE for all?

Funny how neither said nephew nor the legal representative bothered to tell me I have lost my house and that represents about $500 K of real dollars! In a way I don't blame them -- who wants to tell a woman she has lost everything? This last weekend I felt raw grief for my lost house, career dreams and life savings. I cannot begin to describe my feelings when I started to comprehend my losses -- I raged and shrieked and sobbed and at a certain point the very rawness of my pain was so great that I drugged myself into a stupor and slept it off. I don't have any friends that are lawyers, and only know what I have heard -- that fighting BofA is useless because they will tie you up in court for the rest of your life -- just because they can. And me without money for a lawyer.

This is only one story of thousands -- and in another time things could have gone in just the opposite direction. But still, the truth is I wasn't savvy enough to bear the main responsibility for such a costly project, and I never imagined the extraordinary dishonesty of Lake County contractors. But -- damn, that house is beautiful. Beautiful and solid, my gift to a transitional neighborhood. Ooog, whenever the Prez looks down his nose at citizens "flipping" houses I want to say "WAIT!! That's not what I was trying to do!! I wanted a career in Green Building! You don't understand!" I did write him a letter, though. Injustice is injustice. Now what? I just don't know. I really just don't know. Ha, can you imagine getting an actual response from the President to a letter like that? A HELPFUL response, not just "oh sorry you happened to get squished; by the way use this link for Party contributions."

Actually, I can. But -- I also believe in Magic.