Tyeesah McKenzieIf you were ever to enter Tyeesah’s North Philadelphia twin home, you would understand the motivation to hold onto it. In 2007 she discovered that despite having a Section 8 voucher her rent requirement would be $985 per month. She proceeded in purchasing one of the homes constructed by Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha where she also received subsidies from the American Dream Downpayment Initiative. She had a beautiful, newly developed home to call her own for her and her four children. Life felt grand.

In 2018 and the early part of 2019, Tyeesah felt as though her world was falling apart. During this time, her step-father passed away and her mom needed help with the burial costs, Her son was falsely accused of a crime and she had to pay attorney fees to get his record expunged. To make matters worse, for two months, her hours were drastically reduced.

The tsunami of events resulted in the mortgage becoming delinquent, leading her to come to AHCOPA. At the time of the appointment, she felt hopeless, full of despair, and distanced herself from her children. The counselors at AHCOPA helped her apply for the HEMAP program. In addition, they helped her maintain focus and confidence through the process. Meanwhile, she received comments from family members, friends and co-workers that told her, “Don’t waste your time with the HEMAP application. You’ll get denied. Just wait until you get to court for help.”

Tyeesah’s application had some obstacles. When she purchased the home, there were multiple silent liens on the property preventing HEMAP to approve her for assistance. AHCOPA researched her property and discovered that the lien from the American Dream Downpayment Initiative was forgiven. Tyeesah then provided PHFA with all the information they required, approving her for the HEMAP program!

This experience made Tyeesah grateful for her home, and to be mindful of all the work that she has put into it to keep her family safe.

Affordable Housing Center of Pennsylvania

Olive Patrick struggled to maintain her status as a homeowner and reclaim her financial security for over four years. Her world began to collapse in 2007 after she was injured from a devastating fall. She continued to work, until the pain overtook her physical capabilities, and she was forced to leave her job in 2011. Eventually her savings was depleted and with no income, Olive’s mortgage became delinquent.

Olive came to AHCOPA in March 2013 seeking assistance with her mortgage delinquency. At the time, she still had no income and the counselor assisted in preparing a packet to request a special forbearance to Wells Fargo, her lender. The application was approved, which gave her time to wait for disability. “I applied for disability three or four times on my own,” she recounted in our interview, “and I was turned down each time.” She hired a disability attorney in 2015 and was approved.

Around the time that Olive’s disability case was approved, Wells Fargo initiated foreclosure procedures on the property. AHCOPA applied for a modification, considering Olive’s income from disability and her ability to establish low-income payment agreements with her utilities. She was denied a modification. A few months later, her daughter moved back from Colorado and agreed to help pay for Olive’s housing expenses.

AHCOPA applied on her behalf again in November 2015 and she was approved for an FHA-HAMP modification! When Olive received the news of the modification, a calming sensation resonated within her. For three years, she had carried the weight of phone calls and sometimes threatening letters from the bank and their attorneys. Now there was a plan to bring her current. Even though her mortgage delinquency is now resolved, the emotional side effects of facing foreclosure are still with Olive. During that time, she experienced depression and became frustrated over simple matters. Olive admits that she could not sleep while the mortgage was in foreclosure and to this day she still has trouble sleeping.

For Olive, the house symbolizes her independence and a sense of accomplishment. She admitted that if it were not for the assistance of her AHCOPA counselor throughout the process, she probably would have given up. Her account highlights the lasting emotional impact of foreclosure. In spite of this, Olive’s story stands out because of her unbounded determination and perseverance.