12-03-2016  7:55 pm      •     

71-year-old Dixie Mitchell and
her husband have owned their Central District Seattle home for 44 years.

Like thousands of other homeowners across the country, Dixie Mitchell found herself in danger of losing her family home in Seattle's Central District. Her mortgage holder Ocwen Financial refused a loan modification and the home was scheduled for auction. But neighbors, family and friends came together to help the 71-year-old cancer survivor.

"I'm just one of the thousands of families whose lives have been turned upside down by the banks," said Ms. Mitchell. "They got bailed out, but nobody's around to help us when we fall on hard times."

Now a national campaign has brought last-minute hope to the family, and Issaquah-based lawyer John Long has volunteered his services on a pro bono (no fee) basis. What seemed like a lost cause, could well become a victory.

Ms. Mitchell and her husband, Luster, have owned their home for 44 years. The couple raised nine biological children and cared for 50 foster children in this home. The house was paid off in full in the mid-1980s, but when they needed money for repairs and to help one of their foster children, they went to a bank for advice, and refinanced with a sub-prime loan.

The loan repayment jumped to $2,052. But after Luster Mitchell suffered a stroke and became unable to work, the Mitchell's monthly income fell to $2,200. The couple fell behind on payments and the lender began foreclosure proceedings. Their home was scheduled for auction Oct. 28.
 Ms. Mitchell has done everything she can to keep the home: filing for bankruptcy, visiting assistance agencies, offering to rent out rooms to cover costs, and more. She tried to get a simple loan modification but Ocwen Financial, who hold the title to her mortgage refused to modify the loan. She tried to find the people who had initially told her how the loan would work, but could not locate them.

That's when Ms. Mitchell took her story national. With help from The New Bottom Line, an activist organization seeking to change America's current financial structure, Ms. Mitchell  launched an online petition targeting Ocwen Financial. The unified message from Seattle to West Palm Springs was that it's time for Ocwen Financial and big banks everywhere to stop foreclosing on Americans. Ms. Mitchell's supporters stated, "It's time for big banks to 'Pay US Back'." 
Ms. Mitchell's loan modification paperwork was delivered on the other side of the country to Ocwen Financial's Florida offices in West Palm Springs. Petitions bearing close to 7500 signatures were delivered to Ocwen's headquarters Oct. 16, along with the legal papers.

Now, Ocwen say they have received all of the paperwork and will follow-up, although she is still waiting for a firm date.

Ms. Mitchell's friends, family and neighbors gathered in Seattle to support her, Monday Oct. 17.

The family's  problems could be solved if Ocwen Financial agrees to a simple modification. Ms. Mitchell also has requested a mediation session, Because of the new Foreclosure Fairness Act which passed last July, Ocwen is even required under law to give the name of one person who can be a single point of contact for all borrowers in foreclosure."

"The process of applying for a modification has been so frustrating and so disempowering that I've done as much as possible to publicly advocate about the problems within the current system. Local organizations have been really helpful in assisting me to stand up and fight back," Ms. Mitchell told reporters.

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