Foreclosure Prevention Salvages American Dream

The Johnson family

Joyce Johnson was living the American Dream. In 2006, everything changed.

Johnson's high-risk pregnancy put her on bed rest and on early maternity leave from her job. Just after she had her baby, her company announced it was moving out of the Twin Cities and she got her pink slip. A month later, she faced major surgery on both feet. What doctors told her would be a four-week recovery turned into almost five months. "It all happened in the blink of an eye," said Johnson.

Securing employment proved a significant challenge, and the unemployment checks simply weren't enough to cover her family's bills. Fiercely proud of her good credit rating, Joyce fought hard to stay afloat.

Soon, however, her reserves began drying up. She turned to emergency assistance and community-based programs. "Nothing helped long term, and I was getting further and further behind," she said.

Finally, she received the letter announcing foreclosure proceedings, with a scheduled sheriff's sale. She ramped up her search for employment and her search for help. African American Family Services referred her to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program (MFPP). About the same time she received a call for a job interview and was offered employment.

Through MFPP, Johnson was able to secure a loan modification. "It was so helpful to have Twin Cities Habitat as a third party to help negotiate the terms. When you are stressed out and worried about keeping your home, it's nice to have someone there to look at the fine print and help you understand."

Under her loan modification, the delinquent amount of Johnson's mortgage was added to the principal amount, and the loan terms were kept intact. As a result, her payments went up only $20 per month.

Contributed by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.