Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ring Around the Foreclosure, We All Fall Down

If you've been checking in occasionally, you know that I've been in the middle of the loan modification process for a year. The simple version is that, bottom line, I should not have been given a mortgage...I just didn't have the income. But the banks were anxious to lend and I was confident that we had a plan that would make it work. Then the recession hit.

I haven't missed a payment. I haven't even been late. I was raised to pay my bills in full, on time, and not be part of the chain of delinquencies that cause trouble for everyone down the line. But I'm peddling hard and slipping backwards.

The local foreclosure prevention office encouraged anyone who was having trouble, who foresaw trouble down the road, to start talking to their banks before they hit a crisis point. I did.

We sent all the papers to IndyMac, only to be told that they needed more; they didn't have a program for people who weren't delinquent; they were being sold to One West; they needed us to apply all over again, they needed more. The president announced the HAMP program. I got turned down because they were transitioning to the new program. Please apply again. We did.

The latest word is that they're sorry, they're not yet participating in HAMP after all. They have no program for customers who haven't missed a payment. They'll let me know if they do decide to get on board.

This is, remember, the former IndyMac FEDERAL bank. They got rescued as they sank under the weight of their own greed and were snapped up by OneWest, which has adopted aggressive tactics to make sure customers are paying, including repeated calls demanding payment before the grace period is up.

So I've hit the wall. There is no light at the end of the long tunnel and I'm not even emotional about it. Many people have lost as much or more than I stand to lose.

But I am angry that despite compassionate words from the White House and our elected representatives, what's really happening is business as usual. Banks are seeing the recession as a terrific business opportunity and the Obama administration has backed off on demands for regulation, for common sense, for control of not only salaries, but size. There is no serious talk of reinstating the Glass-Stiegel Act. There is a stirring call from the president for business to regulate itself. That hasn't worked yet and there's no reason to believe it will in the future.

Money, big money, wins.

I have spent a morning with people who are living in low-income housing, trying to find work, lining up at the food pantries for the week's groceries. I'm lucky and I know it.

But the greed of this society, the unbridled lust for more, is destroying our foundation. The middle class is being taxed into extinction yet the burden for caring for the destitute, paying for services and trying to help the poorest among us get jobs, get an education and get on the road to self sufficiency falls on those of us who aren't much better off than they are. Taxes, insurance, the cost of living - they're skyrocketing while salaries are flat and jobs are disappearing.

We're in trouble but the people making the decisions are the ones who are benefiting from this situation.

I'm one of millions. And let me say it loud and clear: This System Is Wrong. Shame on us. It exists because we allow it to exist.

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