Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ex-Homeowner Squats Her Way Into Loan Modification, 18 Months After Losing Home To Foreclosure

In Alameda County, California, The Bay Citizen reports:

  • It's hasn't been easy, but nearly a year and a half after Wells Fargo foreclosed on her home of 27 years, Tanya Dennis has finally convinced the lender to modify her mortgage.

  • "They had to deal with me to pacify me and get me out of their hair," joked Dennis, who made headlines earlier this year by hiring a locksmith and breaking into her South Berkeley home after Alameda County sheriff's deputies evicted her.

  • Since then, Dennis, a short, 63-year-old woman who was once vice principal of Oakland's Castlemont High, has been a thorn in the side of the nation's largest mortgage originator.

  • Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda said the deal — which Dennis said reduces the amount of money she owes on her home from $484,000 to $365,000 — occurred not because of Dennis' persistence, "but because we want to keep homeowners in their homes."


Here are some of the steps Dennis took after breaking back into her home in January:

  1. Representing herself, she sued Wells Fargo in federal court. When U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed her suit, Dennis appealed her case to the 9th Circuit — all without the help of a lawyer.

  2. On May 3, Dennis was carted away in handcuffs after disrupting Wells Fargo's annual shareholders meeting.

  3. On May 24, she confronted Jim Foley, the bank's regional president for the San Francisco Bay Area, at Wells Fargo's Oakland office. The meeting was arranged by Oakland's teachers' union. (The union's president, Betty Olson Jones, was also among those who disrupted Wells Fargo's shareholders meeting).

  4. In June, three members of the state Legislature — state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and East Bay assemblymembers SandrĂ© Swanson and Nancy Skinner — wrote to Wells Fargo on Dennis' behalf.

  5. On June 17, with another eviction from the sheriff looming, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, an advocacy group founded by former employees of the now-defunct ACORN, sent an email asking its supporters to contact Foley and Leesa Whitt-Potter, the bank's senior vice president for consumer operations.

For more, see Squatting Homeowner's Persistence Pays Off (Breaking into her own home was just the beginning of Tanya Dennis' campaign to convince Wells Fargo to modify her mortgage).

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