Housing Group Announces Unprecedented Home Mortgage Modification for Laid-Off State Employee

Press Conference – Wednesday, 7/16 – 10:15 a.m.  – 1401 E. 75th Street Chicago, IL 60619

CHICAGO, IL -  Laid off IL state employee CeCe Edwards will be joined by members of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign to announce the unprecedented home mortgage modification agreement this local housing group recently helped her to negotiate with her lender, Wells Fargo bank. With the support of this housing group, Ms. Edwards reached an agreement that will not only stop her from going into foreclosure, but also significantly shrinks her mortgage principal from $260,853 to just $46,000, a more than two hundred thousand dollar reduction that effectively shrinks her monthly payments by two-thirds.

Like many Chicago area homeowners, Ms. Edwards has spent most of the economic recession with an “underwater” home loan, owing more on her home loans than the property’s actual value. According to an April 2014 report by RealtyTrac, roughly 47 percent of Chicago-area homeowners with a mortgage were underwater, with nearly a third dealing with at least 25 percent negative equity. A 2012 National Mortgage Settlement required the country’s five largest banks to offer qualified borrowers principal reductions, but these lenders have often been reluctant to provide families with the relief that would keep them in their homes.

“The only way we can help struggling families in this city is with principal reduction,” explained Ms. Edwards. “This is actually making it affordable for me to stay in my home. But they only gave it to me because I fought for it. If other people fight, they’ll win too.”

Ms. Edwards purchased her Chatham area home in 1999. A decade later, when she found herself defaulting on her Wells Fargo home mortgage, Ms. Edwards sought out and hired an ‘mortgage defense’ attorney, only to find that he failed to deliver on his promises of relief. Instead, it was only after coming to the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign’s weekly meetings that found their step-by-step process of reaching out to her elected officials and rallying her neighbors helped to slow her foreclosure.

In April, Ms. Edwards traveled with the Home Defenders League, a national network of struggling homeowners, to present her case directly to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. During the bank’s Board of Director’s meeting, Ms. Edwards spoke out passionately about the difficulties she faced trying to get a loan modification and the need for assistance for disabled borrowers like herself. At the same time, the Anti-Eviction Campaign members continued to draw attention to her case by circulating an on-line petition and organizing a demonstration at Wells Fargo’s main branch in the loop, prompting negotiations with the bank’s executive response unit that eventually proved successful.

While celebrating her success, the Anti-Eviction Campaign is also recovering from a break-in and attempted eviction from its South Side by Safeguard Properties, LLC, a company currently being sued by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for illegally evicting hundreds of Illinois families. .

“The banks have tried to intimidate us because of the work that we do helping families to fight for the human right to housing,” offered campaign organizer Toussaint Losier. “They want us to walk away, but CeCe’s case shows us that if we stand up and fight, we might get knocked down, but we will win in the end. We hope that her success will open up principal reduction opportunities for other families.”

In addition to fighting to save her home, Ms. Edwards has also had to fight to win back her job with the state’s Department of Professional Regulation. In 2009, she suffered a herniated disc stemming from a case of workplace violence and found herself unable to work or collect unemployment and an abusive supervisor attempted to stop her from collecting workers compensation. She is currently suing the state of Illinois to be reinstated to her former job.

What: Announcing details of unprecedented modification

When: Wednesday, July 16th at 10:15 a.m.

Where: Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, 1401 E. 75th Street,, Chicago, IL 60619

For more information, contact the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign 773-236-0559