Ana Romero remembers the details of every letter with a lover’s compulsion. Flipping through the faxes, call logs, and notices amassed in her document binders, she somberly recites the circumstances. A single mother of three facing foreclosure, Romero has for the last three years wrestled with the largest behemoth banks, waging the kind of drawn out David-and-Goliath battle that leaves insomnia, hypertension, and lachrymose reflection in its wake.
When Romero purchased her San Francisco home seven years ago, the monthly payments were reasonably covered by her two-income household. Divorce changed all that.
With only one income since 2008, Romero has not been able to meet her monthly payments. “For two years I have worked with the bank, sending them documents and trying the trial modification, but they don’t want to help,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
According to surveys carried out by the California Reinvestment Coalition, housing counselors report that servicers frequently lose documents and that Latinos are often denied modifications because of incomplete requests—possibly resulting from lost documents and answers given in Spanish. Most borrowers of color, they report, experience worse loan modification outcomes than white borrowers.
Romero’s loan modification application has been lost several times by her servicer.
She now logs every phone call and keeps documentation binders close by to reference dates and correspondence.
A Bryant Elementary School teacher who has been with the San Francisco School District for 22 years, Romero fears her home becoming one of the 800,000 expected to foreclose in California by 2012.
With an adjustable rate mortgage whose interest rate is expected to increase this year, Romero has launched a Salvadorian food business to demonstrate alternative income sources, and works closely with housing counselors.
She also makes regular calls to her servicer. “It’s hard. I don’t have a single person to talk to. A different person answers the phone every time,” she said. “Where am I going to go if I lose my house?”
Listen to Ana Romero and learn more about how people of color are impacted by the foreclosure crisis at:
Irene Florez is a radio producer at KPFA, Berkeley, California.