SUN Initiative, Lindenhurst, Illinois
Nancy and Mark G. worked hard—and always made their mortgage payments. “So, we refinanced to put in some new flooring and upgrade our appliances. When we were both working fulltime, it was fine. It was even fine when I went part-time,” says Nancy. Then in 2008 Mark lost his job, and it wasn’t fine any more. Especially when Mark developed health issues.
“That started the downward slide,” Nancy says.
Mark and Nancy, both medical professionals, looked for work. It simply wasn’t available. “Even though we worked in the hospital, and have decades of experience, hospitals are reluctant to hire. They are watching their purse-strings.” Nancy couldn’t pick up enough hours to equal a fulltime position. They lived off her part-time pay and Mark’s 401K.
In 2012 they declared bankruptcy.
She says simply, “It was hard.”
“We managed to connect with the company that held our mortgage, to try to renegotiate the loan. It didn’t work. They said, ‘You’ll have to repay this much money in 6 months.’ It got ugly.”
“Then we tried to find a local bank, thinking they would be more accommodating. But every bank said, ‘No. Not when you’ve been through a bankruptcy.’ We felt so isolated, like no one would help us.”
The mortgage company foreclosed, and “in the summer of 2014, they held a sheriff’s sale in our front yard. Freddie Mac bought the house.”
But for Nancy and Mark, who had bought the property in 1996, it was more than a house and they were determined to stay. “Our son has severe ADHD and Asperger’s. Change isn’t easy for him and this is the only home he’s ever known. He needs to be in familiar surroundings. We needed to stay in this house.” Their lawyer was able to get an extension for them to stay in the home until December 2015.
Meanwhile the wife of their long-time insurance agent pointed out an article on SUN in the Chicago Tribune. “We called and were connected with Aura Mortgage Advisors. Everything just turned around,” says Nancy. “They were able to work with us when no one else could. It was incredible.”
“The SUN program is like a bridge. They worked with the bank to negotiate a fair price for the property, and provided us with a mortgage we could afford. And just like that, we could.”
“It’s an awesome program and it should be more widely known. You’re not just throwing money at a problem. You’re saying, ‘Hey, you pulled yourself up. We’re willing to take a chance on you and work with you on this.’”