“All I did…” (a Foreclosure Counselor’s View of One Family’s Story)

In the past year, 233 families have come to PRG for foreclosure counseling. Our counselors worked with some for an hour, some for weeks, and some for months. In the vast majority of cases, we were able to help clients find sustainable ways to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Foreclosure counselor Jennifer Lancour recently reflected on one story, and how the counselor and clients worked together for a happy outcome.

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Some days my job is very frustrating. However, there are moments that remind me of why what I do is very important. Like yesterday when I saw one of my clients at the grocery store and she was so excited to tell me her bank had called her that morning and the modification to their mortgage was approved.

Now, this happens often. However, for this particular family I was especially pleased to see a good ending.

This is a couple who had worked hard all their lives, made responsible financial decisions, and had been doing everything they could to just hold on to their home when they called our office and asked for help.

I could see that it was especially difficult for the husband: all his life he had been a provider for his wife. Two years prior, the company he worked for went out of business, causing a dramatic decrease in their family income. Although he had worked all his life, with employment options being so limited, he could only find a job that payed significantly less than he’d made before, and didn’t offer good health insurance. However, it was a job and there were bills that needed to be paid, so he took it.

Facing such a dramatic decrease in pay, increased medical expenses, and a mortgage payment that now took about 60% of their monthly income, they came to a financial breaking point and could no longer pay the mortgage. They couldn’t sell the home because of the decline in value, and, after several months of missing payments, a neighbor of theirs whom I had worked with suggested they call me, and they did.

When they called me they were five months behind, had tried to work with their mortgage company and been denied a work out, and had an upcoming sheriff’s sale. After hearing their story, I gave them specific instructions of documents I needed to submit a hardship package, and went over the follow-up steps they needed to take on a monthly and weekly basis.

To make what could be an even longer story short, by taking responsibility for their situation, asking for help, being willing to do the work (getting all documents needed), and being dedicated to following the follow-up instructions I gave them, they were able to get a workout that was affordable with their new financial realities.

These clients have thanked me so many times … All I did was help them understand the process, give them information, put together a hardship package, and fax it to the bank for them. However the reality is that it was their hard work, determination, and participation in the process that made this a happy ending.

  • Neighbors have told me that we have actually changed the environment.

    Caroline, Artists on Chicago Homeowner
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