When I first arrived at Edda Lopez's house, I wondered how this elderly woman lives on the second floor of her elevator-less home despite being wheelchair bound. After an hour with Edda, I no longer wondered. Edda is a fighter. She fought for her family and her way of life, persevering even after her home burned down and her husband died a few years later. And now, Edda is fighting Bank of America.
Bank of America services one out of every four mortgages in the United States and is responsible for more foreclosures than any other bank in the country. And now Bank of America is foreclosing on Edda.
Edda lives in Bronx, NY, on a tree-lined side street with playgrounds and parks nearby. You think it might be different, being in the big city, in one of the poorest parts of the nation. But Edda's block looks a lot like the small towns and suburbs that speckle our country. You would feel right at home in her cozy living room or the wide front porch Edda's husband once built with her sons.
When Edda's husband died in 2005 and she lost her job in 2008, she still held on. Edda was approached by a mortgage re-financing company who promised to lower her monthly payments. But buried in hundreds of pages of documents were loopholes and scams. Edda was surprised to find herself an unwitting victim of predatory lending and a sub-prime mortgage. Her payments actually went up.
She tried again. Edda re-negotiated her mortgage with another, more-reputable bank and got her payments down to $2,101 a month, which she could handle. Everything was fine until, in early 2010, Bank of America bought Edda's mortgage and announced her payments would be at least $1,000 higher. What? Edda called Bank of America and only then found out that they had rejected her modification and Bank of America considered Edda behind on her loan for failing to pay the higher amount all along. On the phone -- and only because she called them -- Bank of America told Edda Lopez that her home would be sold at auction on June 26, 2010.
To all those who blame the hundreds of thousands of families facing foreclosure for their predicament and argue that big businesses like Bank of America should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, in the spirit of "free market" capitalism and the American way, you need to meet Edda Lopez. Edda is just like the many other hardworking Americans, struggling to play by the rules and reach their dreams but repeatedly knocked down by cheating, greedy corporations. Since when did the American dream turn into corporate-only heaven?
You can watch a video about Edda Lopez and sign a petition to protect her home at http://showdowninamerica.org/edda-lopez. The community organization National People's Action has made over 23 formal requests to meet with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan to demand an end to unjust foreclosures for Edda and thousands of other American families. Today, Edda will at a vigil outside the $1 billion Bank of America Tower in New York along with her family, community leaders and clergy members praying that Bank of America does the right thing. It's a sad day in America when hardworking families are reduced to praying for their livelihoods to the gods of big banks.