Homeowner credits Occupy D.C. with saving her home

Bertina Jones sits in her kitchen looking over the documents she\'s submitted to save her home. (courtesy of The Brennan Center for Justice, the National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel and Sarah P. Reynolds)

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

BOWIE, Md. – A Maryland woman has been fighting the foreclosure of her Bowie home for nearly two years. But after rallying with the Occupy D.C. movement, things are looking up.

Bertina Jones has owned her home for 14 years. But when she lost her job in 2010, she knew things would be tight. So she says she was proactive. She reached out to her bank, Bank of America, and they were able to work out a permanent loan modification.

Jones says she filled out all the paperwork, sent in $12,000 and began to make monthly payments. But about four months later, Jones says Bank of America told her they never received her paperwork, returned her $12,000 and said they were moving forward with a foreclosure.

“It was disheartening to think that you’re going to lose something that you worked 14 years for,” she says.

But Jones couldn’t understand the reasoning behind the foreclosure and refused to give up.

“Just because they do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right. You need to fight for your home, you need to fight.”

Jones couldn’t afford an attorney, so she turned to lawmakers for help. She says she visited Senator Ben Cardin’s and Congressman Steny Hoyer’s offices and they told her they’d look into her case.

She then reached out to an attorney through Legal Aid and that office was also looking into her case.

But then last week, Occupy D.C. protesters actually reached out to her. They invited her to two different rallies outside of Freddie Mac headquarters. Jones says while protesting outside of the headquarters at Tysons Corner, Freddie Mac invited Jones inside for a sit-down with a representative at the bank.

Jones says she couldn’t believe that after fighting for almost two years, things were looking up. She gives all the thanks to the Occupy movement.

“I was just so overwhelmed that people that you don’t even know were coming to your aid. If it wasn’t for Occupy D.C. I don’t know what I would have done.”

Jones has only talked to officials at Freddie Mac and Bank of America. She emphasizes that she hasn’t signed anything and no specific offer is on the table.

However she remains cautiously optimistic.

“I’m hopeful that we can get something resolved from this,” she says. She adds “it’s looking good.”

WTOP reached out to Freddie Mac for comment.

In an email, Douglas Duvall wrote: “We’ve been exploring options with Ms. Jones’ servicer and we are happy to report that the foreclosure sale will be rescinded and she will be able to stay in her home.

However in a follow-up email, he clarified, “There will be court process Bank of America must pursue in order to rescind the foreclosure.”

What about the timing of the agreement? Does it have anything to do with the rally at Freddie Mac?

Duvall says “We’ve been doing due diligence for a couple of months and negotiating with Bank of America on this resolution for the past week.”

Jones is confident though that Occupiers helped save her home. “They are God sent,” she says.

The Brennan Center for Justice profiled Bertina Jones in its Fighting Foreclosure series.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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