Linda Cooks of Aurora, Col. is feeling unenthusiastic about voting Tuesday after a year in which she said her hours were cut, her bank burned her when she tried to modify her mortgage and her senators ignored her when she visited Washington to lobby for legislation to make it easier to form unions.
"Why even bother? They're not for us. Us working stiffs don't stand a chance," Cooks told HuffPost. "I said I would go vote, but deep in my heart, from what I've seen, the government is not working for us, they're working for the big people."
Adams County records show that Tuesday is the deadline for Cooks to pay her arrears before her house goes up for sale at a foreclosure auction. She's behind by $12,545.
Cooks said she makes $14.80 as an overnight stocker at Walmart, where she's worked for the past nine years. She said she first asked Bank of America for a mortgage modification when her hours were reduced last summer. The bank, she claims, refused to help because she was still current on her payments.
Under the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, borrowers don't need to be behind to be eligible for help. But Cooks, 55, said she didn't hear about HAMP before she was told to apply for it this summer after she'd fallen several months behind. She said Bank of America told her to go ahead and make reduced monthly payments as part of a "trial" modification. So she did, but she said the bank eventually told her she'd been rejected for HAMP because she failed the "Net Present Value" test, meaning the bank figures that investors will be better off with a foreclosure.
"I asked the lady at Bank of America, 'Why would you take my home from me if I'm willing to pay what I owe?' She said, 'We have a formula we have to go by from the Treasury Department.'"
Cooks said she wished she'd saved the $893.86 she paid each month during a four-month trial period. "That's money I could have put to getting another place. I thought I had a chance."
Last week a federal auditor reported that some HAMP applicants "end up unnecessarily depleting their dwindling savings in an ultimately futile effort to obtain the sustainable relief promised by the program guidelines." But President Obama defended the program, saying that "people who through no fault of their own just can't afford their house anymore because of the change in housing values or their incomes" don't deserve help.
Cooks said she visited Washington earlier this year to lobby her senators, Democrats Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, for the Employee Free Choice Act, figuring if she could join a union at Walmart she'd have better pay and benefits. She said she thought the staffers she met with weren't really interested.
Cooks said she hopes she can put off the eviction for at least another two weeks. "If it's not postponed when I call on Wednesday, I'm gonna get a couple pods," she said. "My daughter said I could come stay with them a couple days until I find a place."
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