(Memphis) It’s the kind of neighborhood where you see kids catching the bus in the morning and grandparents going for a walk in the evening.
A couple of blocks from Graceland, neighbors know each others’ names.
The homes aren’t fancy mansions, but the grass is always cut and folks take pride in these Whitehaven streets.
After all, generations of families have been raised here.
So, you might understand why Barry and Mary Ford are fighting so hard to keep a house, that’s technically, not even theirs.
We first met them more than a year ago when the couple applied for the Hardest Hit Fund.
It’s set up to help folks facing foreclosure due to hardships like unemployment, death of a spouse and medical emergencies.
The Fords were denied because despite a will and quit claim deeds, the mortgage wasn’t in either of their names.
It legally belonged to Mary’s deceased husband, Richard Queen. However, Mary was getting and paying the bills every month, until Barry lost his job.
“That process believe it or not is still ongoing,” explained Barry about trying to get Mary’s name on the loan.
After a series of emails from the On Your Side Investigators, their servicer, Ocwen, started communicating with the Fords, even halted the foreclosure and told them to stop making payments.
Barry said, “If it weren’t for WREG, I’m not sure where we would be in this process.”
More relief could be on the way for the Fords and thousands of other Ocwen customers.
Plus, there’s another $2 billion for principal reduction and other assistance to homeowners, like Barry and Mary, struggling to make payments.
Matt Pulle is an assistant attorney general in Tennessee. His office was in charge of overseeing the National Mortgage Settlement with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others, and will be doing the same with Ocwen.
Pulle explained, “In the aftermath of the bailouts, financial institutions like Ocwen were required and are still required to evaluate people for relief when they fall behind.”
Investigations across the country reveal Ocwen wasn’t doing that.
“They’re not returning phone calls, losing documentation, taking very, very long, to just process, very, very basic requests,” added Pulle about what the investigation revealed.
Court documents also show the company engaged in “robo-signing,” or simply putting homeowners through a fast paced foreclosure without due process.
Barry told the On Your Side Investigators, “I felt like our phone calls were a nuisance, frankly, like what do you want? That’s how I felt.”
Before we met the Fords, they’d already tried getting a loan modification. Their current interest rate is 11.6 percent.
Barry describes what it was like making those requests: “Denied, so you fill out another one, denied!”
“It shouldn’t be like calling your cable company, this is far more important,” Pulle said.
The settlement also requires Ocwen to assign customers one point of contact when they call for help.
Plus, the company must at least explain alternatives to foreclosure.
“Even if you’re not eligible for principal reduction, there are other programs, other federal programs, even other state programs that can help you stay in your home,” said Pulle.
Barry and Mary still aren’t quite sure where they fall in terms of eligibility with the settlement.
“Reading the criteria gave me a little hope…as long as they do something to help us keep this house, that’s the important thing.”
They’re cautiously optimistic that after so many nos, they’ll finally get a yes, and hope by sharing their story, someone else gets to stay in their home, too.
Barry said, “If we can successfully matriculate this process and save our home, maybe we can be a light for some other people.”
The Fords are still in the process of working with the attorney general’s office and Ocwen to see if they qualify.
Ocwen will notify some eligible homeowners.
However, if you’re an Ocwen customer that was affected by this, call 800-337-6695 or email ConsumerRelief@Ocwen.com.
Pulle also suggests finding a certified, HUD counselor to help navigate the process and assist with filling out paperwork.
What are MidSouth Residents getting?
- $5.56 million in principal reductions
- $7 million in principal reductions
- 970 eligible for a cash payment
- $18.8 million in principal reductions
- 3626 eligible for cash payment
Who Should I Contact for More Information?
Arkansas Residents: (501) 682-2007
Mississippi Residents: (601) 359-4230, or 1-800-281-4418
Tennessee Residents: Mortgage Assistance Hotline-855-876-7283
- Reference Ocwen settlement when calling
- Read more about assistance here