Huffpost Politics

EyesandEars: Home Owner Protests Foreclosure in Houston, TX

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This story was reported and written by Leia Ford. She is one of the HuffPost citizen journalists helping cover the on the ground effects of the foreclosure crisis. Sign up here to participate in HuffPost's new EyesandEars citizen journalism feature.

On February 22, 2009 I attended the kick-off event for ACORN's "Home Defender's" campaign in Houston, TX. The event was held at the home of Sara Chavez, a single mother who is facing foreclosure. At the event were homeowners and activists who have signed up to participate as volunteers in the campaign.

The event began with an opening prayer delivered by the Rev. Ariel Hernandez, Palabra Viva Church, and opening remarks by Pennie Saldivar who is also facing foreclosure. There were other comments made by ACORN organizers and homeowners, as well as a statement of suport from the Office of City Council Member Peter Brown. After the press event I had the chance to speak with Pennie Saldivar about her experience and her efforts to keep her house.

Mrs. Saldivar bought a single family detached house with her husband and four childeren 3 years ago. She put zero down on her adjustble rate mortgage. Her mortgage was also an 80/20 spilt mortgage. Known to many in the industry as a "teaser" loan that so many home buyers were drawn into. The original loan payments for the Saldivar's were of one monthly payment for $250 and another for $740. When the ARM kicked in, which was for the 80% split on her mortgage, the payment went from $740 to $1500, more than doubling the original amount.

During the loan process Mrs. Saldivar and her husband felt that everything went smoothly; they proved their income and went through the normal paperwork for the loans. They also worked with a Realtor they found on-line. While her mortgage lender explained that she had an adjustable rate that would adjust based on the market, she said she was not given any information about the handling of her escrow account. Pennie said her lender is also trying to collect money for escrow.

If her bank lower's her rates, she said that her family will be able to save their home. She and her husband are self employed, but do not have the income to meet the $1700 in monthly payments for their mortgage. So far, her lender, Wilshire Service Co. has said there is nothing they can do to help re-finance her loan. Mrs. Saldivar stated that she had received advise that she would have to pay the balance on her escrow account before she would be able to do any kind of loan modification.

Mrs. Saldivar said that she plans to do whatever it takes to stay in her home, even if it means going to jail. She said that she made this decision because she was aware that there are many people going through the same thing. She hopes that the ACORN "Home Defender" campaign will bring enough attention to the growing problem of foreclosures to help bring some relief to struggling homeowners. Mrs. Saldivar said she is "trying to fix things", but has not been able to get any help from her lender. She also said that looking back, she "should have done the leg work to see what I was getting into" instead of trusting her lender and agent to take care of everything.

Like so many others at this event, Mrs. Saldivar said that the new foreclosure plan by the Obama administration gives her hope that she and her husband will be able to save their home. If they are not able to stay in their home, she said that she does not know what they will do. In the meantime,she is ready to contact ACORN's Home Defenders to mobilize at her home and declare a "foreclosure free zone" in the event she is served with a 24-hour eviction notice as required by Texas law.

This story was reported and written by Leia Ford. She is one of the HuffPost citizen journalists helping cover the on the ground effects of the foreclosure crisis. Sign up here to participate in HuffPost's new EyesandEars citizen journalism feature.