Last Modified: Feb 25, 2014 02:17AM
Yinka Solebo and her husband, Yomi, lived in their Plainfield home for ll years before they were evicted last November.
Like too many homeowners, the Solebos claim they ran into a series of roadblocks when they attempted to get a loan modification after Yomi Solebo lost his job.
“We were paying $1,500 with a 5.5 percent interest rate; the modification came down to the same thing with a 4.5 interest rate,” Yinka Solebo told me as she held up a protest sign outside the PNC Bank branch at 8700 S. Cottage Grove on Monday.
“Interest rates were down and the bank was supposed to do a modification with the current interest rate. They did not.”
A spokesman with Pittsburgh-based bank declined to comment on the Solebos’ complaint. PNC is the fifth largest bank in America and is part of the multibillion dollar settlement government regulators reached with 10 major banks in 2013.
“They kept asking us for documents. We kept faxing and mailing them. At the same time, we were in contact with bank officials every step of the way. After a while, the lawyers sent us an email saying they were not going to do the modification and that the bank preferred we get another loan. We said we could not do that,” Yinka Solebo told me.
In the end, the bank went through with the sale of the residence and the Solebos were evicted. Their household goods were dumped on the curb.
“Everything was stolen by the time we got there,” said Solebo, who added her family was in court during the eviction.
“I wrote the state’s attorney. I wrote the congressman. Nobody was able to do anything. I told them that we had two kids with disabilities, and the bank would not listen. I tried numerous times to tell the court, but the judge would not listen,” she said.
“It is just so sad that so many people on top at the bank don’t know what is going on underneath them. All we want is the house back.”
A housing group in Atlanta put her in touch with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group established in 2009.
“This is a very difficult situation for her and her family,” acknowledged Toussaint Losier, a spokesman for the organization.
“Part of what we are saying to PNC is that the house is empty right now. It’s vacant. We should, as a society, try to make some sort of solution so that people who are homeless and homes that are empty can connect,” he said.
“If you listen to the news, most of what you hear is that things are getting better and the rate of foreclosures is decreasing. But actually if you look at our neighborhoods across the city of Chicago and across the country, there are still thousands of families going through foreclosure, particularly black and Latino families,” Losier added.
“People are living next to homes that don’t really have the same value that they used to because they have been empty for so long,” he pointed out.
“It is still difficult for people… to actually get the kind of employment to be able to keep up with the mortgage payments that they had in the first place.”
The organization started an online petition on behalf of the Solebos that has 1,200 signatures from people demanding the couple’s home be returned.
The Solebos are not alone.
A recent report by the New York Times found “shoddy paperwork, erroneous fees and wrongful evictions … are now cropping up among the specialty firms that collect mortgage payments.”
Unfortunately, it looks like when it comes to the mortgage industry, the players may have changed but the game is the same.