Facing the prospect of being evicted and left homeless, the McClendon family has resolved to occupy their modest South Side to win an opportunity to repurchase the foreclosed property they claim was lost to a reverse mortgage scam. To date, the bank, the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, has refused their offers to repurchase the home, stating instead that the family must first leave, the home, either through an eviction or on their own accord, before it can be put up for sale.
“Our family has made it clear to Fannie Mae that we are not leaving until they give us a chance to buy our family home back from them, fair and square,” explained Arlene Richardson, one of the family members seeking to repurchase the home. “The people from Fannie Mae probably don’t have to worry about any vacant buildings, but around here, empty homes don’t stay vacant for too long. They get broken into and bring our neighborhoods down. Fannie Mae doesn’t care about what happens to neighborhoods on the South Side, but we do. We live here and we’re not leaving.”
After Ms. Richardson’s mother, Bertha McClendon passed away in April 2010, she and her other siblings learned that their elderly mother had been tricked into a reverse mortgage loan by a broker who would later been indicted for mortgage fraud. In spite of strong indications of fraud, the McClendon family found its repeated attempts to either save their home from foreclosure or repurchase it denied. Earlier this year, a Cook County judge certified their foreclosure and issued an eviction order.
According to the McClendon’s, the only reason Fannie Mae is pursuing an eviction against them is to have the home empty when they pursue a mortgage insurance claim with the Federal Housing Administration, overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But the McClendon family has obtained a recent statement from HUD officials indicating that their regulations do not mandate that the home be empty when the mortgage insurance claim is filed.
“What people need to remember is that Fannie Mae is operating off of taxpayer money,” explained Shirley Henderson, a Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign activist who is supporting the family. “That means that if the McClendon family’s home is left empty and vandalized, taxpayer money is being wasted. This family has a human right to housing and it’s in our best interest to support them.”
In 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Authority, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae, sued the city of Chicago to avoid responsibility for fines and penalties associated with its vacant property ordinance. Three years, an agreement was reached which allowed Fannie Mae to avoid paying fees and fines associated with its vacant properties.
To date, the McClendon family has refused to leave their home vacant, instead demanding that Fannie Mae give them an opportunity to repurchase the home without it being left empty. To date, nearly three thousand people have signed their online petition to Fannie Mae: http://start2.occupyourhomes.org/petitions/fannie-mae-keep-the-mcclendon-family-in-their-home.
For more information, contact Shirley Henderson 773-907-3961