Gutierrez Family Tells TCF Bank: Don’t Make Us Homeless

Chicago, IL—(ENEWSPF)—September 26, 2013. Home prices in Chicago may be on the rise again, but the housing recovery is bypassing families like the Gutierrez’, who face eviction this winter.

On Thursday at noon, supporters of the Garfield Ridge family and members of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction will gather at TCF Bank at 29 E. Madison to demand that the family be offered a chance to buy their house back at market rate. The family will detail their nightmare experience of trying to negotiate with TCF Bank, which foreclosed on the home and bought it back at auction on May 13th.

Time is running out for Domynika Pawelczak, Juan Gutierrez and their teenage daughter, who have been ordered to leave their home by early November.

Unemployment and medical bills from their daughter’s scoliosis surgery put the family thousands of dollars behind on payments, but they owe far more than the underwater home is worth. A HUD-certified counselor told the couple that TCF Bank had a reputation for not working with customers, saying there was nothing they could do.

“This bank doesn’t like working with people; they just see you as another number,” says Pawelczak.

The only offer that TCF Bank made to the family to help them avert the foreclosure would have added, instead of reduced, the principal they owed on their loan. After the Gutierrez family began writing letters to TCF, the bank offered them a new loan less than a week before the May auction. But the offer increased the principal by $22,000, asked for $4,000 up front and reset the mortgage for 30 years again.

“It was like we had never made a payment, even though we have lived in this house for over 8 years now,” says Pawelczak.

Afraid of being even deeper underwater and finding themselves in further financial trouble, Domynika and Juan refused this offer and begged the bank to give them a principal reduction—rather than a principal addition—but to no avail.

While many commentators have heralded a housing recovery, the Gutierrez’ are one of many families for whom the foreclosure crisis continues. Nearly 7,000 Chicago-area families received notices of foreclosure activity in August.

Nationwide, as many as 10 million individuals have been forced out of their homes since 2007, many of whom are still struggling to find housing.

“The housing crisis is not over. What many have called a recovery is actually investors driving up prices by buying up foreclosed homes in bulk,” says Sabrina Morey, an organizer with Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction. “Meanwhile, the pain continues for families like the Gutierrez’. We demand real relief.”