Below is the third installment of a five-part series, Too Little to Save, in which the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) highlights a family and describes their struggle with foreclosure.
Mr. and Mrs. Navarro live with their 34-year-old daughter, a 16-year-old grandson, and an eight-year-old granddaughter. Family members worked together at a small business for ten years before it became a casualty of the market crisis. The Navarros took work where they could find it in an effort to try to keep the home, but when their interest rate adjusted they could no longer keep up with the payments. Mr. and Mrs. Navarro explain:
So [business] started getting slower and I had to look for a job. [I was] making $8.00 an hour, compared to what we were making...The thing is that we work together from home. So the company went [into] bankruptcy and then there was no work.
The honeymoon was over and now it's divorce time. Why? Because the interest rate that we had wasn't true. Because after two years the fixed interest was over and the owner, the [lender], could set the interest that they wanted.
Even after the family paid their lender $2,500 to save their home, they ultimately ended up in foreclosure. Mrs. Navarro recounts the events:
We talked and we [were coming] to an agreement. But [the lender] asked us for $2,500 and we gave it. It was a big sacrifice; we paid it because we didn't want to lose the house. But then we fell behind another month because again my husband was unemployed for about a month. So we called again, telling them that we didn't have work. Wait a little bit, we are going to pay. They didn't want to give us another chance.
The family moved to a new house that was too small to fit all the family members. Mr. and Mrs. Navarro describe how crowded quarters raised tensions:
The change was really bad. As a matter of fact, we are still not used to the new house. It's way too small for us because the children were used to each of them having their own bedroom. So right now my daughter sleeps with the girl, the other boy we sent to the basement, and my other daughter who is there now--we're fixing another bedroom downstairs. We are all over the place...Because right now the house is really small, my husband can't sleep because we made a bedroom out of a living room; we closed it and all that.
Financial anxiety continues to disrupt the family's relationship. Mrs. Navarro describes her eight-year-old granddaughter's difficulty understanding the family's situation:
The girl cried a lot. One night, when her mother left and my husband was gone, she started, "Grandma, why did we leave the house? Let's go back," and she was crying and crying and we can't get her to stop...And now she doesn't say anything but she's like, "Grandma, I want my room again. Why do I have to sleep with my mother?" That's what she asks me.
The Navarros were frustrated with their bank and felt they were not given a fair deal with their mortgage or efforts to avoid foreclosure:
Honestly, I think that the banks are not fair in certain situations, because it's not only us, there are a lot of people who are facing this same situation. I mean, if it was that we went on a trip and we spent the money--but we weren't [paying our mortgage] because there's no work. So the bank doesn't want to negotiate and if we ask for a loan, it's going to be the same thing. If you have any kind of difficulty, the bank is not going to give you a chance on anything.
A new report released by the Center for Responsible Lending estimates that before the end of the crisis, Hispanic homeownership will decrease by 17%. The Navarro family is just one of the many who will lose their homes. While lenders were eager to dole out home loans that would reset after a short period of time, they have exhibited a strong unwillingness to help families once mortgages spike. By resisting immediate solutions, lenders add to the long-term consequences that will sweep away a generation of wealth and compromise family ties.
Has your life been affected by the risk of foreclosure? If so, please share your experience. Contributing to this project will help decision-makers better understand the depth of this continued foreclosure crisis and take better steps to address it. Your personal story could affect their decisions!