Last Tuesday, Debbie and Ron Austin—two of Portland's longest-tenured foreclosure resisters—finally got the dreaded doorknocking from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and were rousted, along with their kids, from their Southeast Portland home in the pre-dawn dark.
The Austins' story, however, is especially worth reading. Yes, they got behind on their mortgage payments because of medical bills. But they also successfully obtained a loan modification and got to keep their home. Or so they thought. Months of payments weren't counted by their lender because of a bureaucratic error—restarting the countdown to foreclosure. And then? The legal system, they say, failed them.
In a lengthy letter posted on Facebook this weekend, Debbie Austin wonders why the family's bankruptcy lawyer didn't step in. (I've left him a message seeking comment.) She also singles out Multnomah County Judge Karin Immergut (a controversial, Bush-appointed ex-US attorney ) for ignoring the canceled checks and receipts Austin held up as proof her family had been fulfilling their legal obligation.
The heartbreaking story proceeds from there. And now there's a security guard sitting inside the Austins' house.
Well, I hope all my friends see this and share it with everyone they know...
As most of you know, we have been fighting this ILLEGAL FORECLOSURE AND EVICTION that HomeStreet Bank, MERS and FNMA (Fannie Mae) filed against us.
This nightmare started back in 2008 when Ron got a pay cut at his work and his second job was taken away from him.
Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with cancer and in the same month I had a 2nd back surgery which crippled my right foot. We filed bankruptcy in 2009 and I was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
We applied for a "loan modification" which we were granted and looked forward to getting our lives back on track.
When lo and behold our bankruptcy attorney, Todd Trierweiler, forwarded a letter to us from HomeStreet Banks' attorney stating we were three months behind in our mortgage payments!
I immediately called the bank to see what was going on because we had MADE ALL THE MORTGAGE PAYMENTS!
The bank refused to talk to us....
I called our attorney who said he had nothing to do with "post bankruptcy" accounts, which confused me because we were still making Chapter 13 payments AND the bankruptcy HAD NOT been discharged!
Had Todd Trierweiler (our bankruptcy attorney) done his job and and been the advocate a good, moral attorney should be, this is where he could have stopped all this at this point!
HomeStreet Bank succeeded in being granted a "motion of stay" and proceeded in the foreclosure.
Now, there are many details in all this, but I don't want you to lose interest...
Chemotherapy has damaged my memory and speech and this hindered a lot of my communication skills disabling me from putting up a better fight... BUT we teamed up with a non-profit organization called "We Are Oregon," who has taken up the fight against illegal foreclosures.
Together we have fought gallantly against our foreclosure.
I filed a lawsuit against HomeStreet Bank, MERS & FNMA and so I could present my proof that all payments were made BUT JUDGE IMMERGUT REFUSED TO ACCEPT MY PROOF BECAUSE IT WAS NOT ON AN AFFIDAVIT!
Mind you, I was holding up my canceled checks, bank statements and HomeStreet's receipts showing the payments were made.... She ALLOWED the foreclosure AND ALLOWED FNMA the order of eviction!
Today at 6 am, 10 to 12, sheriff's deputies banged on our door with their "billy clubs," waking us all out of our sleep, forced their way in, and demanded we leave the house "NOW"—I was in my panties and T-shirt and that was it! It was 32 degrees outside and I looked at them and said I wasn't going outside naked!
They knew Ron left for work at 5 am and that "We Are Oregon" house sitters arrive at 8 am so they had to move quick to get us out!
Also, at 6 am, our neighbor supporters would all be asleep and under the cover of dark, less would be seen...
I grabbed as much as I could putting things in a suitcase with a very rude, callous female officer literally 1 foot away from me -prodding me in a loud voice continually saying..."hurry up" "just get your stuff -come on, come on..." and the like...
Just three minutes earlier I was sound asleep, combined with my "chemo brain" and her continual prodding—I just couldn't think of what to pack or what to do!
I told every officer I saw that we made all our payments and this was wrong! I am not the crook here! The kids and I were continually prodded and pushed out the MY front door in which the locksmith was changing the lock...
Again I state that this is MY house and I made all the mortgage payments and can prove it. "It's not our business, we're just here to get you out!" ...and like comments!
I am carrying Tink (my dog), a huge, heavy suitcase, my purse (a suitcase in itself...lol) and my court file box!
I have a pet squirrel named Simo that comes in and out all day long and to please not hurt him as he is tame and domesticated.... "it's not our concern, just get out"
Stumbling out the door with my bad foot and back, holding suitcase, purse, dog and big file case, my son Andrew runs up to the porch yelling "you couldn't help her carry anything? Her foot obviously doesn't work and she's 57 years old!" ....
As I look at him I see three to four Portland Police cars BLOCKING Mason Street and three to four blocking Skidmore Street! Which means approximately eight or more Portland police officers are also here in addition to the deputies... There was only four of us: A 57-year-old woman, my 20-year-old daughter, a college student, my 23-year-old son, a security officer himself, and a 19 year old friend of the family...
A security guard paid by FNMA (Federal National Mortgage Association) is now stationed in MY home and will arrest us if we return!
I hope you understand this:
FNMA, a federally paid program, designed to loan people money to buy a home, is now stealing our house from us! FNMA is funded by taxpayer's money... The police and deputies are funded by taxpayer's money; the McRobert's Security officers HIRED BY: ' FNMA' is paid out of taxpayer money; Judge Immergutt is paid by taxpayer's money...
WE MADE ALL OUR PAYMENTS! WE EVEN PROVED WE MADE THE PAYMENTS!
We've lived in this house at 4207 NE 77th for 26 years—working, helping and paying taxes... WE ARE NOT DEADBEATS!
If you have a mortgage—regardless of which bank or lending institution—you are in danger of having your home stolen away from underneath you! And it's happening to thousands upon thousands of people in America!
My father fought in the Korean War and WW2, my grandfather fought in WW1, both my great-great -great grandfather's fought to free the slaves in the Civil War (yes that makes me a "Daughter of the Revolution") and my stepson has fought in Aftghanistan and will be deployed there again within the month -while his hard working father has been evicted from his home!
America has become the tyranny our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution...
...with Liberty and Justice for all who can afford it!
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!