Legal Aid and Neighborhood Housing Services save home
July, 2011 – For sixteen years, Tammera Stanley shared mortgage payments with her mother on their home in eastern Cleveland. When her mother passed away, Ms. Stanley was unable to make the payments on her own. The house went into foreclosure, and Ms. Stanley went into a panic. “My son, my pets – we would have been homeless,” she says. A family member recommended Legal Aid, where Consumer Practice Group attorney Katie Feldman took Ms. Stanley’s case. First, Ms. Feldman worked with colleague Ann McGowan Porath to put the title of the house solely in Ms. Stanley’s name. Then she began to work with the lender.
Ms Stanley says, “Katie did everything for me – went to mediation, talked to [the bank]. She just kept working.” The bank offered to allow Ms. Stanley to pay off the mortgage entirely for a reduced amount. Ms. Feldman then approached Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC), a non-profit which provides residents with housing counseling and home repair loans to buy, improve and keep their homes.
NHSGC identified grants and a loan, forgivable as long as Ms. Stanley keeps up her taxes and insurance, that would provide Ms. Stanley with the necessary funds to completely pay off the mortgage. Darren Hamm, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Housing Services, says the case was an ideal example of the Legal Aid/NHSGC partnership: “Ms. Stanley did the hard work – she got back on her feet, she was current in all her other obligations. She was incredibly well prepared by Katie. We could execute this short payoff thanks immensely to Katie’s work.” Mr. Hamm adds that more homeowners can benefit from rescue funds, “The need for assistance is not going to wane, and we want to let people know this assistance is there.”
Observes Ms. Feldman, “This particular bank was really open to having a true mediation and thinking outside the box to keep [Ms. Stanley] in the house.” She credits Ms. Stanley’s cooperation through a long process: “She did everything asked of her. She participated in her own case – she was more than willing to provide whatever documentation was necessary in a timely manner.” Ms. Stanley still cannot forget the stress of those months, saying, “I took it one day at a time. I don’t know what I would have done.” Now, she is able to concentrate on her studies at the Academy of Court Reporting. Her son is a freshman at John F. Kennedy High School and runs on the track team. Ms. Stanley walks her dog an hour each morning in their neighborhood. She treasures those walks, saying, “Now it’s relaxing – not stressful.”