November 05, 2011

Letter to Senator Feinstein and back ground on my mother's situation

I wanted to share the letter I sent to Senator Feinstein about my mom’s situation. I’ve gotten a lot of questions as to what happened and this helps explain a bit I hope. It should be noted that since this letter was sent they have first denied my mother’s modification, and then approved it again though it would not lower her payment, all without any new paperwork.

It should also be noted that after a case was being opened by the Senators office, further investigation by them concluded it was a state issue, not federal because HUD never got involved and they had to close the case. Her office did however open a case with the Department of Corporations to investigate the conduct of FMC in this matter.

Since then, Congresswoman Bono's office opened a congressional inquiry, but did not offer any helpful assistance before backing out. FMC denied my mother's trial modification, then back tracked and approved it after they got outside pressure, they did this without ever getting different paperwork. The numbers did not change for my mother's income.

We managed to get a 3 month trial modification, which is required to do any modification, done.  FMC charged my mother MORE than her normal mortgage payment by 50 dollars a month for that three month period. FMC pushed this back so that it did not start until the summer when she gets 200 a month instead of the full amount of her disability.

It was not until Kate Berry ran her story that HUD became actively involved.  We have been trying to get my mother a HUD approved program modification since March, FMC has had all the paperwork for almost a year.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I am writing on behalf of my mother, Lesliane Bouchard. My mother’s home loan is through First Mortgage Corporation located at 1131 W. 6th Street Ontario, CA 91762 (Loan # XXXXXXXX). Her home is located in Murrieta, Ca in Riverside County. I believe First mortgage is discriminating against my disabled mother and is now attempting to cover it by rushing through her foreclosure before anyone can do anything to stop it. My mother qualifies for the HUD “making homes affordable program”. FMC’s employee allowed her application to expire all the while assuring my mother there was “plenty of time” and now they refuse to work with us, the error was theirs. I contacted FMC on June 13th via email, I was responded to via phone on June 14th. I was told at that time her foreclosure publication had been pulled. There were additional emails on June 15th which said the same and no contact since. Though they did indicate that they would contact me, they have not. June 23rd a notice of intent to sell at auction was taped to my mother’s door. We had mailed in hard copy a case work release form with this information to your office; I called on Friday and was told that faxing it would expedite it due to the sudden time constraints we are now facing.

My mother is permanently and catastrophically disabled due to a spinal cord injury. She is bedridden 23 ½ hours per day. She cannot even sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. Her motor skills are such that she cannot write you herself. She has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a severe neurological disease that attacks the entire sympathetic nervous system, with secondary effects from arthritis to migraine headaches. It causes extreme pain, muscles spasms throughout the body, partial to full paralysis, and it is degenerative. While she will live a normal life span, her life consists of lying in bed all day, every day in pain that the top doctors in the field describe as “the most painful, non-life threatening disease,” unable to use her limbs or catch her breath. I lack the words to describe how awful and helpless it is to watch someone you love go through it.

My mother is my hero. She raised my siblings and I alone. She worked long hours while going to college full time. She managed to make time for us even though she was exhausted and the example she set was one all of us strive to emulate. In 1991 someone ran a stop sign and hit my mother, the injuries incurred caused the RSD. She was in school to be an RN at the time and while to begin with the paralysis was in only one arm, she could no longer perform the duties of a nurse and was forced to stop the program. Most people who become severely disabled accept their fate and live on SSI or disability insurance. My mother instead looked to see what she could still do with a broken body and realized she could teach.

She went back to school, first receiving her BA from Chico state and later getting her MFA from San Diego state. She maintained dean’s list grades while taking care of three children and she did it with a disease that doctor’s claim is unbearable to handle. She took a job as a teacher, she taught English and History to 7th and 8th graders at Temecula Middle School up until September of last year. Prior to her accident my mother was a foster parent for many years, she was the foster parent of the year at one point in Sacramento County. She took hard to place children; the children other homes turned away. In addition to raising her own children, she has devoted her life to helping mold and nurture other people’s children. One of the few joys she still has is the continued contact and friendship she maintains with dozens and dozens of her former students

My mother purchased her home in the summer of 2008 with a fixed rate 30 year FHA loan. In September of 2010 she went out on permanent disability, no longer able to work, as her disease progressed to the point it is now. She made her last payment in August 2010 because she knew her doctor was filling out disability paperwork and that she would only work into the first part of September. She knew based on information from the company that provides disability insurance for teachers that disability benefits wouldn’t come immediately. She let First Mortgage Corporation know the situation around that time.

Earlier this year, my mother was made aware of the “Making homes” program through HUD. She was ecstatic at the possibility to stay in her home. Everything else has been taken away from her. Her career as a teacher; although she still has her college degrees, the decade of higher education now seems pointless sacrifice. She lost her health, her financial security, the ability to enjoy life like a normal person. Her home is the only thing she has left. With the help of family she compiled all of the needed documents required to apply for the Making Home Affordable plan. They were received by FMC on March 3rd of this year. The paperwork clearly stated it had to be received before 3/4/11 to be eligible.

The paperwork has been sitting on the account manager’s desk since March 3rd. My mother has called weekly only to be told it will be done “This week.” The paperwork expired after 90 days. My mother has run out of time. Although the account manager repeatedly assured her that there was plenty of time, a default notice has been filed, and foreclosure proceedings begun and “intent to sell at auction” was taped to her door yesterday. My mother’s disability income is not a standard one amount every month. It won’t be until next year. Because of how the teacher’s private disability works, her amount fluctuates some until next year when it becomes a steady monthly amount for the rest of her life. It has something to do with temporary verses permanent disability. Everyone that goes on this disability is considered temporary for the first two years then it shifts over to permanent. I have attached explanations of her income. It requires a bit more effort on the part of the person calculating it than a standard form. However, I fail to see how someone’s entire life is less important than a few minutes extra effort. She will be homeless for no reason other than sheer laziness and ineptitude on the part of one person.

My mother can make the payments if they are adjusted through this program. She qualifies for the program. She did not have an adjustable mortgage, she did not falsify her income, She was honest, followed all the rules and did it right. Unfortunately, she is now disabled and will never be able to work again. Our family is deeply concerned that because of the inaction of one person in that company my mother could realistically lose her home despite it being totally preventable. The only reason it will happen will be the inaction of that employee allowing her paperwork to expire. My mother is unable to talk on the phone for long periods or be on the computer for very long. She hit a communication wall where the company is concerned. I decided to become involved when I found out how ridiculous this situation has become.

I wrote a letter detailing my mother’s situation, the state her house is in and the repairs it would need to qualify for a loan to be re-sold, and I explained the fact that the employee had been sitting on it for months. I did let them know that I was talking to local news and bloggers about my mother’s situation. If she was going to lose her home because someone just didn’t bother to process her paperwork, I planned and still plan to put that into the public eye in any way I can. It is negligence, it is avoidable and it is my mother’s life. I then began trying different combinations for the email address until I was able to get a couple to go through instead of being bounced back as undeliverable. I had planned to have hard copy letters delivered to them if the email hadn’t worked; I cancelled the UPS shipment when I received a voicemail from Joe Sander’s of FMC.

Mr. Sander’s left me a voicemail that was polite, explained that I needed to fax him an authorization from my mother allowing them to talk to me and then he would call me back. I did so. I expected a polite phone call; however he was very abrasive on the phone to begin with. He had an associate sit in on the call, Sherri Mandrell. He switched tone mid way through, but was very vague about several things and ended by saying she no longer qualified for the HUD programs because of a date issue but she qualified for a “standard modification”, which would lower her mortgage by 11 dollars. He said that he would pull the publication on the foreclosure to give us time to work on the standard modification. I thanked him for pulling the foreclosure paperwork, I did not comment on the modification because I needed to look at the paperwork she had.

I was angry at the conversation. I was not being told the total truth but because I didn’t have any of the forms in front of me, I couldn’t comment one way or the other on several issues. I also felt that the approach he took was an attempt to bully me and when that did not have the intended effect he then switched tone and tried to placate me. I drove to Riverside County to review the actual paperwork. At that time I realized it had expired sitting on the employee’s desk. It also did not match what I had been told on the phone. Additionally, the assessor’s office had placed the value of her house at 50K less than what they were claiming. I can provide her original paperwork for the HUD program and the paper from the county assessors if need be. Please let me know.

I wrote a follow up email to Mr. Sander’s in which I expressed that I was angry at the tone of the conversation and that what I had seen in the paperwork did not match what he had told me. I again asked that she be submitted for the HUD programs and not a standard modification. In response I received rude emails from both Mr. Sanders and Ms. Mandrell implying I was lying about what transpired in the phone conversation. A subsequent email from Mr. Sanders inadvertently acknowledged that I had been honest about the phone call. When I brought that to his attention, he did not respond. At no point was it ever acknowledged that the paperwork expired or was left sitting for over 3 months while my mother moved toward foreclosure. There was nothing but flimsy excuses for that with no admission of anything being wrong about how it was handled.

I am now being told that she only qualifies for a standard modification. She spoke to a HUD counselor and an employee of FMC prior to applying; she qualified at the time she applied. She turned in everything within the time frame required and the packet was complete. We have the assessor’s office paperwork showing the actual value of the house as 200K, not 250K. Given the fact her income dropped by 40% and her medical went to over 1000 a month because of needing COBRA, the idea that 11 dollars a month less would make a difference is just silly. They have all of that information; there is no way she could pay that. I don’t know how she would even qualify for it. I believe that the reason they are saying she no longer qualifies is because the employee allowed it to expire. Rather than address that to rectify it, they are trying to sweep it under the rug knowing full well it will cost my mother her home.

June 23rd, a note of intent to sell at auction was taped to my mother’s door. Mr. Sanders and Ms. Mandrell both said on the phone and in email her foreclosure publication had been pulled to allow time to sort this out. They lied. I was told Ms. Mandrell would be following up with me to deal with a modification, this was another lie. The notice was the only other contact FMC has initiated. The paperwork was complete and never reviewed.

I have repeatedly asked that she be submitted to the HUD program and given a chance to keep her home. I am writing in the hopes that your office can offer assistance. My mother is an amazing woman. She has worked hard her entire life and done everything the way she was supposed to. She has helped other people’s children and made a difference in so many lives. For her to be cast aside like nothing because of a paperwork issue is wrong. My mother needs help and she is running out of time. They plan to sell her house on July 18th.

Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to read this. I appreciate your attention in this matter.

Kristiane Chappell

Again, for anyone that would like it, here is FMC’s contact information.

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