How Homeowner Rita Pollard-Bell Saved Her Home

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Rita Pollard-Bell contacted the Cleveland Department of Aging when she received notice that her home was being sold at a sheriff’s sale because of a foreclosure.  Ms. Pollard-Bell was told that she would have to move out of her home by Christmas Day.  She was enrolled in the Economic Security Project, which provides holistic financial case management in partnership with community organizations such as The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Through the referral by the Economic Security Project staff to Legal Aid, Ms. Pollard-Bell found legal help to address her problem.  Ms. Pollard-Bell had been convinced to take out a reverse mortgage and use the funds for home repair. The home repair company has a poor reputation in the community for taking advantage of seniors.  Unfortunately, the repair company did not complete the repairs they contracted to provide and a short time later, the company went out of business.

After getting the reverse mortgage, Ms. Pollard-Bell fell behind on her property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, so the reverse mortgage company paid them on her behalf.  The reverse mortgage company expected her to repay the taxes and insurance advances—over $2,000—in one lump sum. When Ms. Pollard-Bell could not afford to pay, the $50,000 balance of the reverse mortgage loan became due.  With a very limited fixed income, Ms. Pollard-Bell had no ability to repay the full amount of the loan and the reverse mortgage company filed for foreclosure.

Working together, Legal Aid and the Department of Aging assisted Ms. Pollard-Bell in applying for foreclosure mediation, which kept Ms. Pollard-Bell in her home temporarily.  Legal Aid then advocated on behalf of Ms. Pollard-Bell and successfully arranged an affordable payment plan with the reverse mortgage company. After Ms. Pollard-Bell makes three payments under the payment plan, the foreclosure will be dismissed and Ms. Pollard-Bell will be able to stay in her home permanently.  Ms. Pollard-Bell achieved economic security and avoided increased living costs as a result of renting. In addition, Ms. Pollard-Bell no longer experiences the stress of potentially losing her home.  Ms. Pollard-Bell’s determination to keep her home resulted in a very positive outcome.

 

This article was written by Emily Muttillo from the City of Cleveland Department of Aging with Legal Aid Supervising Attorney Katherine Hollingsworth and appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 1. Click here to read the full issue.

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