Friday, February 25, 2011

Homeless In Hephzibah

My Hubby Dale wrote this and I wanted to share....

"Shortly before my parent's passed away in 2001 and 2002, they refinanced their house. Because of my Dad's age, he decided against the Credit Life addendum. He passed away in May of 2001. In August of 2002, my Wife and I, plus my (at the time) 10 year old step-daughter moved from WA state to live with and help take care of my Mom here in Georgia. In December of 2002, my Mom returned to Glory. She left me their house and contents in her Will.

Things were going good for us for awhile until I was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer in late 2007. During the course of my chemo and radiation treatments, for which time I took 12 weeks FMLA leave legally, I was terminated from my job. The written cause was "Company Reorganization" and my position was eliminated. I was a beverage warehouse manager. A Supervisor under me was given my role and pay but not the title of Mgr. Thinking this was illegal I attempted to get an Attorney but was refused by every single one I talked to as I was repeatedly told I didn't have a case because I couldn't prove I was fired for having cancer. Shortly after this time I was told by a people still employed there that they had "overheard" conversations about me and why I was really let go... They didn't want to deal with the possibility of the cancer returning, plain and simple.

Being as how I was released, it did at least qualify me for Unemployment while I searched for new employment. Herein is the problem. I have applied for and interviewed for several jobs since that time but can not get hired. I was "hired" a couple of times but as soon as the issue of my having had cancer comes into the conversation I'm given some bull reason why I don't meet the "required qualifications" and released. If I didn't meet these "qualifications" why was I ever interviewed and even hired to begin with? I think it's pretty simple to see the REAL reason behind it all. One company (GA Nuclear Power Company) even told me that I had to be 5 years "cancer-free" to work there. I asked to see that policy in writing and I was refused. I asked the Dr to put in writing what he had told me and he again refused to do so. The search for employment continues on. The radiation caused some damage to nerves and muscles to the point that I now need to wear "adult garments" most of the time, so a lot of things I once was able to do I now can not.

In February of 2007, my wife was at work and injured her lower back while moving a rather large patient. She is an RN and was employed by the D.O.D., assigned at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon. She received partial compensation from Workman's Comp for a short time but it was then stopped. The reason for this was based on a lone physician's comment that he didn't see anything in her medical workup as to why she was in so much pain and couldn't work. To this very day the US Department of Labor's Office of Worker's Compensation Program disputes that my wife is in pain and further states that she can work, so no compensation is being paid to her, yet they continue to pay for my Wife to see a Pain Management Dr every month and also pay for her increasing pain medications, of which there are many. My Wife is in a constant haze and the pain from the original injury is getting worse. She was fired by the D.O.D. for not attending work, even though she is on a massive amount of narcotics and can not operate a motor vehicle nor would the GA Nursing Union support her in the event she did something wrong at work. What could have possibly been fixed maybe easily has now turned into a bulging disc, 2 annular tears, and a compacted vertebra with probably permanent nerve damage. Social Security Disability has denied her claim as well. We again attempted to get an Attorney to look at the case but no one would go against the D.O.D. stating they would tie everything up in red-tape for years.

We managed through 2008 and 2009 somehow, on my Unemployment and by selling a few things... my guns and her jewelry and such. Things were getting really tight in the early part of 2010 and we then got behind in our mortgage payment. JP Morgan Chase Home Finance wasn't one to play around and foreclosed on our home. It was sold in early August to Freddie Mac, who is unwilling to work with me in any way to save my home. I had to appear in the county courthouse on November 17th. At this time I received
a "7 Day Notice To Vacate", meaning I had 7 days to be out of the house. The judge didn't even let me present my reasons. The Marshal's office came by on December 2nd and gave us the final notice... The "Eviction Crew" would be here On Monday morning at 08:00. A little later than we'd thought it would be, but we were grateful for the extra time. I just hate that my brother and nephew had to ruin their holiday plans to help me get our belongings into a storage unit before I thought we'd lose it all. We stayed in the house to try to stretch out remaining funds as far as possible but they were soon depleted. Well, it got a little rough a while. Still not employed at that time, although I had been searching and applying like a madman, and unemployment payments have been exhausted. No income coming it at all. At least we had our possessions in a storage unit for a month and we have a couple of coolers of food. Daughter was now staying with some good friends until we get things straightened out a bit and is doing very well as she's in her first year at ASU... Very proud of her for pulling A's and B's, and especially so during this traumatic time in our lives. The Lord is with us, I truly know this, and things will get better.

That was then.

A little more about the mortgage...
I was financed with Chase Home Finance originally. Lisa and I have been making all payments since 2002. The biggest problem has been that the house remained in my parent's name. During the Estate Probate period following my Mom's death, a deed was supposed to be issued in my name as the legal resident of the property. This never happened... Why, I don't really know. But Chase was aware of their deaths and added me to the mortgage as a "person of relevance" so the contract and terms therein could legally be discussed with me. I did a mortgage loan modification with them and was 4 days late with the 4th payment after the remodification. When I paid that month's payment I also paid the next month's payment in advance (May and June). 2 weeks later I received a letter stating that I had broke the modification agreement and the house was being foreclosed and auctioned the next month (August). They kept the money. Freddie Mac bought the house at auction. The first contact I had, of any kind, with Freddie Mac was a summons to court for eviction delivered by the Marshal's Office in early September. I contacted Freddie Mac and attempted to work something out but they wouldn't even talk with me. I had a Mortgage Consultant brought in but it did no good. At my first court date in September, the Attorney that was to represent Freddie Mac didn't appear so the hearing was stayed and rescheduled for November 17th. At that time I got a 7 Day Notice To Vacate The Property. I tried to ask a couple of questions of the Attorney but all he would say is "I can't disclose that information". We actually got a couple extra days due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began a program called "Cash For Keys" whereas they will offer the current occupants a small cash sum (to help with relocation) for vacating a property and leaving it in a "broom swept" condition. This helps to further insure that those leaving will not vandalize a property when they do leave as well as to avoid a court eviction process that can cost up to $6,000 or more. When I tried to talk with Freddie Mac on the phone, I inquired about this and why I was treated so harshly in the entire matter and they transferred me to another department where I was cycled into a computer telephone service and could not get another soul on the phone. When I tried calling again, as soon as I told them my name I was again cycled into the computer telephone system... 4 more times. For a company that likes to pat itself on the back for helping the struggling homeowner, they sure do have an ugly side that the news doesn't talk about and that the public needs to know about.

Wife and I both sent e-mails and made phone calls to the local news stations and our local Representative. Got a form letter reply from the Rep and the news stations didn't even do that much. Seems no one cared.

We're out of the house now, had no choice on that matter. We do now have Congressman John Barrow's office working on why Chase and Freddie Mac got us out so quickly as they did, but haven't gotten a final word on anything as of yet. We won't get our house back but maybe it'll stop it from happening to anyone else.

Wife and I are now residing in a hotel on Washington Road in Augusta, for the mean time anyways. I'm working again, full time even, but my wages being as they are are just covering the hotel cost and gas to & from my work. There are places out there for rent but the cycle we're now in prevents us from saving the "first-last-deposit" most require so here we are, for now. No assistance agencies can help as there are no funds available for our needs. Our belongings sit in storage save a few we have with us. It's rough but worse for my Wife, as she's trying to deal with home loss and her back injury. I know things will get better, I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

Dale Sturgill

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