During the past dozen years, Frank H. has battled cancer, diabetes that caused him to lose his foot, the death of his parents and his longtime employer closed the plant where he worked and moved operations to Mexico.
Despite the challenges and difficulties, Frank feels blessed when he thinks of his family and friends, especially a housing counselor who introduced him to Keep Your Home California. He is also evidence that good things often happen to those who help others.
“I have a large family, and they’ve always been a big help,” says Frank, who often watches his nephews and nieces – and sometimes even their children — at his Fresno home. “My sister and brother often come over and bring me dinner.”
But he almost lost his home several months ago.
Frank was a manager of a door manufacturing company in Fresno when he lost his foot to diabetes in 2001, but he kept working. Several years later, the company closed the local plant and moved to Mexico, leaving Frank – and many others — without work. Then, he was diagnosed with cancer that required chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Frank was approved for disability and still had health coverage because he paid $600 per month through his former employer. But even with health coverage, his medical bills were too much and prompted him to look at refinancing, a possible fix to his financial hardship.
“I tried to refinance, but they weren’t willing to restructure the loan,” says Frank, adding that he had multiple mortgage servicers during one year.
And as his mortgage servicers kept changing – making refinancing impossible – his medical bills kept arriving in the mail.
“My house was underwater, I just couldn’t make it,” Frank says. “I got behind on all of my bills. I had to choose every month what bills to pay.”
Frank had a longtime friend help him with some of his bills. And a chance meeting helped him lower his mortgage principal.
He was completing more refinance applications when he volunteered to help the needy in Fresno. His good deed led to good fortune, meeting housing counselor Elba Morales who had a booth at the event to help financially strapped homeowners. Morales was at the event on behalf of the Fresno Housing Authority, a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that partners with Keep Your Home California to help homeowners apply for the free program.
A few months later, Morales was digging through her documents looking for homeowners who could get help from Keep Your Home California and she remembered Frank.
“She went through the files in her closet to see who would be a good candidate” for the mortgage-assistance program, says Frank. “She knew that I was going through a rough time. She told me exactly what I needed to do. She took my hand, step by step.”
Frank applied for the Principal Reduction Program, which offers as much as $100,000 to homeowners, in late November. He was approved for the program two months later, and his principal was reduced by $47,000.
“Just taking that chunk off the principal, that’s a real Godsend,” says Frank, whose monthly mortgage payment dropped from $926 to $624.”It’s a lot of help to me, it’s a lifesaver.”
And that’s saying a lot for the cancer survivor who continues to deal with numerous health issues.