After an almost year-long fight, Occupy Our Homes is elated to announce that Jacqueline Barber has worked out a deal that will keep her and her family in their home for good! Jacqueline, a retired police detective who has been fighting a rare form of bone marrow cancer, was facing eviction when she first reached out to Occupy Our Homes Atlanta last October. Jacqueline was dual tracked and her mortgage documents were filled with forged signatures, and like millions of Americans she was now faced with losing her home. But after fighting for a year, Wall Street backed down and agreed to let Jacqueline and her family keep their home.
The fight hasn't been easy. We launched a 24-hour occupation on Jacqueline's yard to defend her home from an eviction attempt. We held actions at bank branches and headquarters around the country-often having to change targets as the responsibility for her foreclosure shifted from servicer to servicer. Jacqueline even traveled to Minneapolis to personally deliver a message to US Bank with the help of Occupy Homes MN. All the while, Jacqueline's health declined as the stress of a looming eviction accelerated her battle with cancer.
But we persisted, and Jacqueline refused to give up. With the help of supporters and our allies like the Home Defenders League we spread Jacqueline's story around the world. Thousands of people around the country signed petitions, made phone calls, and took actions on Jacqueline's behalf.
Last week, Jacqueline purchased her home back from Ocwen and US Bank at a price she can afford. Today, Jacqueline and her four grandchildren can rest easy knowing that they no longer face the threat of imminent eviction.
Early last year, Jacqueline shared her personal account of facing foreclosure. Her experience, unfortunately, mirrors the experience that far too many American homeowners have endured at the hands of big banks since the housing bubble burst of 2009. It is a story that bears repeating.
My name is Jacqueline Barber. I spent 20 years working as an officer and detective for the Atlanta Police Department. I am working with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta.
In 1998, I was struck by a car while on the job, causing spinal injuries that left me unable to work. Forced into early retirement, I spent the next few years recovering and welcoming new grandchildren to my ever expanding family.
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, GA. In 2009, shortly after the housing bubble burst causing our economy to crash, the adjustable rate on my mortgage reset, causing my payments to go up by almost $1500. Meanwhile, the value of my home began to plummet.
Then tragedy struck. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. I began aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, while my son helped me begin the long process of applying for a loan modification with Wells Fargo. After almost a year of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, my disease went into remission. My mortgage troubles however were far from over.
Over the next 2 years, I sent in document after document to the bank, attended countless seminars with housing counseling agencies, and tried everything I could to obtain a loan modification, all while still in a wheelchair from the pain I was suffering. My family and I even fell victim to so called “foreclosure rescue” groups, paying them over $3000 to assist us. Finally in early 2012, I received a letter from the executive VP of Wells Fargo assuring me that they were working on my case. I felt a sense of hope at the prospect of finally getting some relief.
Much to my surprise, I received a letter a few weeks later from US Bank, claiming they had purchased my home at auction for less than a third of what I had paid for it, and demanding that I vacate the property. Despite their assurances that they were working on my case, it seemed Wells Fargo had moved forward with the foreclosure. My family, including my four young grandchildren who now live with me, were faced with being put out of the home we love.
This began my next battle with US Bank & GMAC. US Bank purchased my home at the auction for less than a third of what I paid for it. Now they are trying to evict me, even refusing to sell the home back to my friends and family who were more than willing to pay for it. It appears that my home was bundled with thousands of others into a risky Mortgage Backed Security, the same kind that led to the crash of our economy in the first place. US Bank is trying to place the blame on GMAC, who claims it is in the investor’s hands.
This began my next battle with US Bank, and their enforcer/servicer GMAC, who are demanding that my family vacate the property immediately, even refusing to sell it back to friends and family members who were more than willing to purchase the home back from them. It is unclear at this point who actually owns my home. It appears that my loan was bundled with thousands of others into a risky mortgage backed security, the same kind that caused the economy to crash in the first place. The stress of all this has caused my cancer to come out of remission, and I am now having to resume aggressive treatment to fight it. On Thursday October 11th a judge lifted the stay granted by my bankruptcy. US Bank and GMAC are now free to continue eviction proceedings. This means that I could be evicted in the next few days. However, instead of losing heart, my spirit has been strengthened.
Occupy our Homes Atlanta has set up an occupation at my home. I’m gathering my friends, family, and community by my side to deter an eviction that could come in a matter of days.