Reverse Mortgage Nightmare: Community Leaders Stop Wrongful Eviction of 91-Year-Old Senior Citizen

After tearfully watching her personal belongings being removed from her home as part of a court ordered eviction on July 25, good news came to 91-year-old Mrs. Jane Scott this past week. She was relieved to find out that she would not be wrongfully evicted from the place that this sweet and vibrant 91-year-old senior citizen has called home for over 60 years. Mrs. Scott also found out that she would be receiving a complete home makeover, at no cost, courtesy of Houston Housing and Community Development, with the assistance of District D Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins. Mrs. Scott’s home is located in District D on Ashburn St.

As deputies with the Harris County Precinct 7 Constable’s office stood watch as a third-party company threw all of Mrs. Jane Scott’s furniture, personal items and clothing on her front lawn, one-by-one; several concerned community activists, including local attorney Eraka Childs of The Childs Law Firm P.C., worked diligently behind the scenes to reverse this horrible situation.

Childs immediately got involved once she caught wind of the situation, and began providing her legal expertise to deal with the matter. While handling things through the courts, Childs also informed key individuals in the community about the situation and contacted the media.

As Mrs. Scott was in the process of being evicted, Childs was able to successfully get a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the eviction process.

Childs states that the eviction stemmed from a 2015 insurance bill for $853 on Scott’s reverse mortgage.

Mrs. Scott had taken out a reverse mortgage a little over four years ago in order to take advantage of the equity in her home, and to supplement her income.

Mrs. Scott had been up-to-date on making all of her payments for taxes and insurance, but accidentally missed a payment for her home insurance of $853. Her son helped her rectify the situation, by making the payment electronically on Mrs. Scott’s behalf on April 21, 2015.

In spite of that payment being made, Mrs. Scott was still ordered to come to court, where she was informed that her house had already been foreclosed on.

“There was a gap in the communication and they moved forward with the foreclosure not knowing she had paid,” said LaTrice Martin, one of the community activists who had been assisting Childs in her efforts to save Mrs. Scott’s home. Martin started a company back in 1998 called Save Your Properties, LLC, which helps struggling homeowners who are facing foreclosure or dealing with other issues that put their home in jeopardy of being lost.

Council Member Boykins received a call from Renee Jefferson Smith regarding Mrs. Scott’s situation, and after coming out to review the existing conditions of her home, Boykins realized she would not be able to return to her home in its current condition. He then contacted the Houston Housing and Community Development, who have agreed to completely fix her house up for free.

Childs was successfully able to get an extension and Mrs. Scott’s court date is scheduled for August 11. But until then, she has been placed in temporary housing. Council Member Dwight Boykins has been working tirelessly to ensure that Mrs. Scott is settled for the next few days. Many of you have reached out to help, and for that she is very appreciative.

Mrs. Scott was provided temporary housing at a local hotel at no cost while her home is being remodeled and while those involved make sure her personal belongings are properly restored.

This is an extremely important conversation starter in our community, because reverse mortgages can be very tricky, especially with the fine print, and they are not for everyone.

For those unfamiliar with how reverse mortgages work, let us help.

A reverse mortgage is a type of mortgage loan in which a homeowner can borrow money against the value of their property, with no requirement to pay any monthly mortgage payments.

It’s called “reverse” because the lender pays the homeowner, versus the traditional payment method of homeowners paying the lender.

Reverse mortgages serve as an advantage for many seniors, who are able to access the equity they’ve built up in their homes immediately, without having to be responsible for any payments towards the loan until they die, sell or move out of their house.

Homeowners, however, are still responsible for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance; and although they are not required to make monthly payments, once the homeowner dies or decides to permanently leave their home, the home essentially belongs to the lender because the lender places a lien on the home, which allows them to recoup the money they’ve given the homeowner for the loan once the house is sold, along with any fees and interest that has accumulated.

Although reverse mortgages are seemingly a great way for seniors to get money quickly and supplement their income, there are some drawbacks to doing a reverse mortgage.

There are many older homeowners who choose to do reverse mortgages because they don’t have an interest or a will in place that passes on their home to family members or friends as an inheritance, but there are many homeowners who do, which is why better understanding reverse mortgages is critical.

As a homeowner who decides to take out a reverse mortgage, please be advised that the loan, fees and interest that accumulates as a result of the reverse mortgage loan, significantly reduces, and in some cases completely eliminates, the overall inheritance that would have otherwise gone to the surviving family or friends of the deceased after the acquisition or sale of that property.

Anyone who is interested in taking out a reverse mortgage should contact the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 for a list of local lenders that are approved by the Federal Housing Administration. HUD can also supply the name of a government-approved debt counseling agency, which can provide useful information to homeowners considering a reverse mortgage.

Homeowners should also consider hiring an attorney that will help them review their reverse mortgage documents. Homeowners can contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or visit www.oag.state.tx.us to find out about legal clinics and other free legal help.