A Fayette County woman is battling the clock to save her home and is hoping that the public will jump on board with Occupy Atlanta to help her.
After 20 years with the Atlanta Police Department and two years of battling a deadly cancer, Fayetteville resident Jacqueline Barber is taking on a new adversary - the bank who plans on evicting her from her home on Thursday.
Barber, 62, retired from the APD in 2001 after a career-ending injury on the job.
“In 2005, while visiting a former co-worker with my daughter, I came across my dream home. A friend urged me to apply for a loan, which I did and then quickly forgot about. A few weeks later, I got a call from a loan officer telling me that I had been approved and asking me when we wanted to move. Reluctant at first, my family and I decided to purchase the home in Fayetteville.”
Barber told reporters on Monday that she didn’t go look for the house - it was a gift from God because “he knew these babies” she said pointing to her four grandchildren, ages two, four, six and 10, “we’re going to need a roof over their heads.”
She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer, in 2009.
At about the same time, Barber joined the ranks of millions of Americans who were staggering under the costs of a bad loan.
While undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her son helped start the long process of applying for a loan modification with Wells Fargo. After almost a year of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, Jacqueline’s disease went into remission. In 2009, shortly after the housing bubble burst causing, the adjustable rate on my mortgage reset, causing her payments to go up by almost $1500. Meanwhile, the home’s value began to plummet.
Over the next two years Jaqueline sent in document after document to the bank, attended countless seminars with housing counseling agencies, and tried everything she could to obtain a loan modification, all while still in a wheelchair from the pain. Her family even fell victim to so-called “foreclosure rescue” groups, according to Tim Franzen of Occupy Atlanta, paying them over $3000 for modification assistance.
Finally in early 2012, Jaqueline received a letter from the executive VP of Wells Fargo assuring her that they were working on her case.
“I felt a sense of hope at the prospect of finally getting some relief.”
However, Barber soon found out that Wells Fargo was working on a dual level and had foreclosed on the property, selling it “on the courthouse steps” before she had a chance to finish the negotiations.
The property was purchased by US Bank, who sent her a letter saying they had purchased it at auction and demanding she vacate the property.
To stave off the eviction process, Barber filed for bankruptcy in August, which granted her a temporary stay, but as she was at the Newnan federal courthouse paying fees she discovered there was a hearing slated on her case and she had not received any notification from U.S. Bank.
“U.S. Bank is not interested in helping me. They just want me out,” said Barber.
U.S. Bank is taking her to court to demand the judge lift the stay, allow them to evict the Barbers and are also, if they win, requiring Barber to pay the company’s legal fees.
Family members and friends have even offered to buy back her home, but the bank refuses to consider those options.
Her cancer has since come out of remission and she attributes it to the stress caused by her current situation. She has to resume aggressive treatment to fight it.
“We want to send a message that she will not be evicted,” said Franzen. He and others who were involved with the Occupy Atlanta movement are now part of a group called Occupy Our Homes ATL, which focuses on the housing crisis.
Franzen said his group’s counterpart in Minneapolis plans to deliver a hardship letter on Barber’s behalf to U.S. Bank headquarters on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Occupy Our Homes is sponsoring a call-in to U.S. Bank’s CEO and, on Thursday, the group will protest at district court in Newnan at Barber’s hearing.
“Ms. Barber’s not asking for a handout. She’s well capable of handling reasonable mortgage payments based on the current assessed price of the house - $153,000- the amount the bank paid for it.”
Not the $475,000 of Barber’s original assessment.
She just wants the bank to sell the house back to her or her family for that amount so they can stay together. If she’s evicted, Barber said she has no place to go.
If she loses her battle in court, Barber could be out of the house on Thursday.
“They’re going to have to carry me out. I’m not rolling over and I’m going to fight back.”