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Couple uses grassroots movement to fight foreclosure

Grassroots movements are taking up the cause of minority communities being ravaged by mortgage fraud and foreclosure. The movement has slowly been gaining speed across the country over the past decade and really seems to be making a difference in affected neighborhoods. Maybe politicians in Washington, D.C., will finally take notice.

One couple, who has faced foreclosure and bankruptcy, has joined their local Occupy the Hood movement to fight big bank lenders. The couple fell victim to fraud and was force to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Their story starts a decade ago when the husband experienced an injury that ended his 13-year career with General Electric. He wanted to go into real estate and become a landlord. However, his income was limited to monthly disability checks and his wife's job did not pay enough.

The family received a postcard from National Mortgage Funding promising home financing for people of any income. The man, then 47, was quickly approved for a $109,000 mortgage.

The same broker convinced the man to expand his business and, over the course of the next year, he purchased three rental homes. The couple was making ends meet until July 2003, when a huge utility bill and the loss of a tenant caused him to be unable to make his mortgage payments. The couple filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. They ended up losing one of their four houses to foreclosure.

The man found out that the broker he had been dealing with was unlicensed and had sold him a fake deed. The couple is now suing 12 entities including Chase Bank and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. Their charges include fraud, predatory lending and conspiracy.

The Center for Responsible lending said in 2011 that minorities are targeted by aggressive marketing for high-risk loans at a higher rate than comparable white families. As a result, families of color are twice as likely to lose their homes to foreclosure.

Source: Cincinnati CityBeat, "Unoccupied," Fabien Tepper, Feb. 28, 2012

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