I ran across this article this morning. I was move by the plight of this individual knowing that thousands, maybe millions of Americans are living this nightmare. Renters are caught up in the nightmare as well which compounds the housing crisis in the United States.
Pittsburg resident Casandra Jackson-Gordon is moving – again.
For the second time in less than two years, Jackson-Gordon says she has lost her subsidized rental home to foreclosure. The first time, she also lost her $1,500 security deposit – but the bank offered her $3,500 to move out fast so it could sell the property.
That money helped her get into another house. She’s hoping the lender that holds the mortgage on her current residence will be equally generous.
‘I’m a single parent, I’m on a fixed income,’ said Jackson-Gordon, who is recovering from a stroke and unable to work. ‘It’s hard for me to come up with the deposit.’
With foreclosures on the rise across Contra Costa County, housing rights advocates say they are receiving an increasing number of calls from people who were paying their rent and had no idea their landlords were in trouble – until the tenants found a notice of sale posted on their front doors.
Some of these renters also have been duped into handing over large sums to landlords already in the process of losing the houses they are renting out. And tenants have little hope of getting their money back, observers say.
Arlene Bradley, housing advocacy director for Housing Rights Inc., which has offices in Berkeley, Antioch and Concord, said the number of renters forced from their homes by foreclosure who come to the agency for help has tripled recently, with most Contra Costa County cases from Antioch and Concord.
‘Basically I tell them what their rights are – that the bank has to evict them through the courts,” Bradley said. Their fear is that they are going to be put out on the streets and we tell them that’s not how it works.’
While banks can evict foreclosed homeowners with just three days’ notice, tenants are entitled to 60 days to move, Bradley said. Eager to quickly auction off the houses, banks often offer renters payments known as ‘cash for keys’ if they agree to move sooner.
Do your homework
People seeking a rental home can check a Web site affiliated with the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder’s office to see if a notice of default or notice of trustee sale has been filed on the property. Computers are also available for public use in the clerk’s office in downtown Martinez.
‘If you are in the default mode that would be the time you want to know because there’s something wrong. By the time it’s a trustee sale you are a month away from having that house sold on the courthouse steps,’ said Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir.
Prospective tenants can also go to the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s office Web site for notices of default or trustees’ sales.
And there are other warning signs renters should pay attention to, officials say.
‘If you see that the rent is real reasonable, a nice four- or five-bedroom house and they may want to rent it for $1,400 or $1,500, that’s a red flag,’ said Elaine Brooks-Cox, housing counselor supervisor with Pacific Community Services, Inc., a Pittsburg nonprofit that helps tenants and landlords. ‘They’re just trying to get someone in there to get as much income as they possibly can.'”
It is unfortunate and possible that we all know someone who has gone through this or is going through this right now. While I feel for anyone in foreclosure, any homeowner who knowingly rents a property solely for the sake of racking up the funds once the home is no longer his or hers should be accountable. It is wrong PERIOD. No matter how desperate one maybe, one should not use their misfortune as an excuse to take advantage of others. Desperation it is as millions of Americans lose their homes, we must realize that this is more than a homeowner problem, it is an American problem. We are all in this together.
Lisa White goes on to provide the following information in her article:
If the rental price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check a potential or current landlord for notices of default or trustee sale at these Web locations:
Contra Costa County: www.criis.com/contracosta/srecord.shtml
Alameda County: www.acgov.org/auditor/clerk/index.htm
Also offering help:
- Housing Rights Inc., 1966 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-8776
- Mt. Diablo Housing Opportunity Center, 2699 Monument Blvd., Suite G, Concord; 1-866-469-0133
- Pacific Community Services, Inc., 329 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg; 925-439-1056
- Bay Area Legal Aid, call 510-250-5270 to set up an appointment with an attorney.