Irene Duda lives on a fixed income but saw her mortgage double when the lender went out and purchased flood insurance on the open market, she says.
She paid $350 annually for the flood insurance for her condominium, but could not afford to one month and asked her bank to pay the policy with an escrow account. But the bank bought a $1,700 policy, and the result was Duda couldn’t afford the $400 jump in the monthly mortgage payment and ended up in foreclosure, she said.
“I had called the mortgage company to ask them to pay the flood insurance because I didn’t have that much cash,” Duda said. “I’m left on hold 30 minutes, 45 minutes.”
Duda, who is fighting foreclosure, is far from alone, as thousands of South Florida residents are caught in the same situation — underwater and with no hope in sight. And the latest White House plan alone cannot fix the real estate mess, veteran real estate attorney Richard Burton says.
“Everyone sees a big number like $25 billion or $5 billion for Florida, and $5 billion wouldn’t cover South Miami,” said Burton, who represents Duda.
But real help, not just lip service, is on the way, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson says, as the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America will be coming to Miami for five days later this week.
People like Duda will be able to meet face to face with lenders, finance counselors, and experts whom you cannot get on the phone but who have the authority to modify your loan at an in-person meeting.
“They will be helping people mitigate their mortgages. Those of us who have homes underwater, they will be working with them,” Wilson said.
Organizers say homeowners might be able to get $1,000 taken off their mortgages.
NACA’s representatives will meet with struggling homeowners at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, at 711 NW 72nd Avenue right by Miami International Airport, from Thursday through Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Come with your paperwork. Come with your mortgage statements. We know these are hard times — struggling times,” Wilson said. “In addition to that they will be selling homes that have been foreclosed and have been refurbished by the banks. You don’t need credit.”
For a full list of documents such as mortgage paperwork and pay stubs you need to bring with you to NACA’s “American Dream” event in Miami, click here.