I came to New York from the Dominican Republic and dreamed of owning my own home. I worked hard as a hairdresser for 12 years to save money and finally bought my house in 1999. It’s not big, but as a single mom, it’s perfect for my two kids.
I made my mortgage payments on time for 10 years. But then the salon where I worked was destroyed in a fire and I was suddenly out of a job. I went through my savings trying to keep up my payments, but it wasn’t enough. By the time the salon reopened, my interest, arrears and fees were so high, it was impossible to catch up. I was served with foreclosure papers. I desperately wanted to keep my house and tried to work with the bank to modify my mortgage. I even paid an attorney who said he could help, but he just took my money and nothing happened.
I sent the bank everything they asked for—the same papers over and over. Finally I was given a ‘Trial Period Plan.’ This meant if I could prove to the bank that I could make payments, they would permanently modify my loan. I could sleep again and thought it was finally over. I just had to make my payments on time for three months and then they promised me a permanent modification. I made every single payment on time, but they didn’t send me a permanent modification. I made three more payments hoping that they would see that I was responsible. Then they started sending my checks back and told me they were going to take my house.
I was given a Court date for a “settlement conference.” Going to court was a scary experience, but I knew I had to fight for my house. I couldn’t believe it, but the bank started asking me for paperwork all over again. I speak Spanish and some English, but not enough to understand all the lawyers. Thank G-d, Jessica and Rose Marie from NYLAG were in the Bronx court house and made an announcement in Spanish saying they were there to help anyone who didn’t have a lawyer, which was almost everyone.
That was in October 2010, and we have been working together closely ever since. Whenever I get anything from the bank, Jessica translates it for me. Whenever the bank requests documents, we work to put them together and translate them. Jessica negotiates with the bank and speaks on my behalf. After months and months of hard work, the bank is finally offering me another Trial Period Plan. I begin making my payments next month. It’s not over yet, but this is progress and there is hope, and this time I will have NYLAG to defend me. Having an advocate there to explain everything and to stand up for me has been such a relief. I now have the courage to continue fighting to save my home with NYLAG at my side.