Friday, March 9, 2012

Bank Has 2nd Thoughts On Completing Foreclosure Action After Homeowner Vacates; Premises Becomes Uninhabitable, Taking Down Neighbors' Quality Of Life

In Cleveland, Ohio, NewsChannel 5 reports:

  • For one woman, moving into a southeast Cleveland neighborhood in the 1980s was a dream come true. But years later, the dream spiraled into sleepless nights. "Despair. Frustration. Why did this have to happen?" Jennifer Simmons said.

  • Renting somewhere else now, Simmons cries over the home that slipped away. Foreclosure knocked on her door after she had taken loans against the house and fell behind in payments. "They served me papers at work, at my job, at home, in the mail. Everywhere," Simmons said.

  • Simmons moved out, and vandals hit the house within days. They turned it into a nightly stop, stripping away everything that was not nailed and some things that were, even the furnace. "People took the water meter out of the house and it caused the house to flood for three weeks straight," Simmons said.

  • Two years later, the bank called and said it was dropping foreclosure proceedings. But by then, the house was uninhabitable.

  • And the bank came back and said, 'Hey Jennifer, you can have your home back,’" said Jim Szakacs, director of the Nehemiah Mission, a church group helping people and properties. At no charge, the mission cleaned away debris and propped up the house to keep it from caving in.

  • "This used to be a kitchen. I'm looking around at the kitchen and utility room. I used to cook holiday meals in here," Simmons said. Simmons loves the house, even now. It was home . County ownership records still carry her name. "I can't look at pictures of Christmases past and holidays… The last holiday before I moved out and I cry. I can't look at the pictures anymore," Simmons said.

  • So now an abandoned house becomes a falling domino, taking with it lives of others. "What happens to the neighbor next door, to his property values because of this house?" Szakacs said.

  • Ask neighbor Rick Johnson, who has seen enough to know he has seen too much. "You go around any corner, there's at least seven empty houses on the street. Everybody used to own these houses around here. It wasn't like rental, stuff like that. They owned these houses now. Neighborhood tore. It's tore up bad," Johnson said.

  • It’s the story of a house which is a ghost of what it was, and of a woman who had sweet dreams before foreclosure. Problems of the abandoned house now ripple down the street, affecting the lives of those around it.

For more, see Cleveland woman gets her foreclosed home back after it's destroyed by vandals.

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