After Reverse Mortgage Scam, Neighbors and Friends Rally to Support Grandmother Facing Eviction

(From the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign)

Vigil and Press Conference – Saturday, 9/13 – 2:15 a.m.  – 58 E. 91st St Chicago, IL

CHICAGO, IL – A member of the Chatham community is in danger of being evicted from her home due to a reverse mortgage company’s scam: negligence, malfeasance and fraud. Because of this, community members will stand with Vernell outside of her home. Vernell Rowell is now a tenant in the home her family has owned since the 1950’s. Reverse Mortgage Solutions Inc. (RMS) started the foreclosure process in 2011 and now own it. “We’ve lived here longer than 17 years!” Vernell shared while sitting on her front porch.

Vernell lived in Sparta, Illinois as an adult but returned to the Chatham home, permanently, to live with her widowed aunt, in 1997.Vernell’s Aunt Harriet stated she wanted the home to be given to Vernell, in a will. In 2002, Vernell was designated as Harriet’s Power of Attorney. After viewing a Janaan Mortgage Company commercial on television, Vernell and Harriet called to get additional income to help maintain the home. Employees of Janaan Mortgage Company came to the house to verify Harriet’s eligibility. When the reverse mortgage was signed, Mr. Tom Welch-a loan officer for Waterstone Mortgage Company-called to finalize the deal. However, he failed to notify Vernell that if her name was not on the mortgage, she could be evicted once Harriet passed. This was in 2007, before the federal government legally mandated homeowners to receive counsel from certified housing agencies prior to signing a reverse mortgage. Sadly, Harriet passed away in 2010, and RMS foreclosed on the property shortly thereafter, leaving Vernell in a tailspin. RMS’s argument is that Vernell was not on the mortgage. And interestingly enough, RMS will claim a financial transaction in 2009 plays a role, a mortgage with a different FHA case number and loan number. Vernell has no knowledge of this document; furthermore, the signature for this document is Vernell’s, but look close enough and you’ll notice it is copy and pasted.

Vernell was led to believe that if she was 62 or older at the time of her aunt’s passing she would assume ownership of the home. Furthermore, she was also led to believe that she did not need to make payments on the reverse mortgage. To complicate matters, the foreclosure process was initiated with Vernell as the grantee as of 2011. Considering Vernell has been foreclosed on as the family member that did not pay off the reverse mortgage, why has Cook County’s Recorder of Deeds documented Vernell as the grantee? Lastly, what is this 2009 document if one cannot receive two reverse mortgages legally?

Vernell can be evicted from her home at any time all because someone wanted to make a commission off of her late aunt. Public Letters have been sent out to RMS and Ald. Sawyer, with no response. Currently, Vernell’s petition to fight for her home is approaching 2,500 signatures. Therefore, neighbors, community members, concerned advocates and housing activists will join Vernell to listen to her story in support of her stressful but empowering stand.

What: Vigil for the Rowell family

When: Saturday, September 13th at 2:15 p.m.

Where: Rowell family home, 58 E. 91st Street, Chicago, IL

For more information, contact the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign 773-236-055