News

Lynn woman loses her job, her health, and now her house

(Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Maria Rivera has lost a lot in the past few years. Now she’s fighting to keep her house.

“I was laid off in 2010 and a series of temporary jobs hasn’t worked out,” she said. “Now, I’m dealing with medical issues and the loss of income after I filed a restraining order against my significant other.”

It was a different story in 2004, when she worked at Northeast Legal Aid and bought the 127-year-old single-family home for $211,000. She moved in with her former boyfriend, a truck driver, and their four children. The couple managed to meet the $1,800 monthly payment for six years.

But her layoff took a toll on the family’s finances.

In 2015, Rivera, 52, thought she had worked out a deal with the bank to reduce the monthly mortgage payment by $600 to $1,200, but Wells Fargo told her they never received all of the paperwork and filed for foreclosure.

When the mortgage modification fell through, Wells Fargo Bank seized her home for nonpayment last month.  

In July, Wells Fargo held an auction at the four-bedroom cottage and bought the 1,768-square-foot home for $233,959, well above the assessed value of $189,600.

“I told them I don’t want to move,” Rivera said. “I am trying to come up with some way to keep my family in this house.”

Things got worse earlier this week when the city’s Water & Sewer Commission shut off the water for nonpayment. She owes more than $2,000 in back payments and worked out a payment plan, but was unable to stick to it.

“I was paying $100 a week starting last September, but stopped paying in November because coming up with $400 a month was challenging,” she said.

Daniel O’Neill, the commission’s executive director, said while he is sympathetic, the city can’t provide free water.

“If she comes in and makes some kind of payment and agrees to a plan that would pay off the rest, we will turn the water back on,” he said.

In Essex County, the number of petitions, the first step in the foreclosure process, fell to 718 from January through July, down from 803 for the same period a year ago, a 10.5 percent dip, according to new data from The Warren Group, the Boston-based real estate tracker.

During the same period, the number foreclosure deeds, the last step to seize a home, was flat at about 325.

“I just want to settle all this and keep my family together here,” said Rivera.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said Rivera’s loan has been sold and is being serviced by Florida-based Ocwen Financial Corp.  

“We empathize with any individual or family facing foreclosure,” Ocwen spokesman John Lovallo said in a statement. “Ocwen made several attempts to work with the borrowers to find a solution for their situation, including offering various loan modification options. Unfortunately, we were unable to finalize the terms of the agreement.”

 The Bay State saw 6,466 petitions through July, down 15.5 percent from the 7,648 filed over the first seven months of 2016. Year to date, the state recorded 3,487 total deeds, up 1.3 percent from the 3,440 filed over the same period last year.

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