Living in Latin America, you get used to a sort of background assumption that affairs in the U.S. and Canada, while maybe going through a rough patch here and there, are fundamentally better than they are in the South. People look with envy on the idea of discount stores, endless freeways, clear title to your home — they might not know all the details, but there’s a general idea that if you work hard, you can get ahead.
I’m visiting the States and keep getting reminded of how false these ideas are. This story deserves to be read widely, especially by the U.S. residents (and members of the House of Representatives) who presume to tell Latin Americans about how their countries would be able to develop if only they respected private property, punished wrongdoers and gave people a secure way to save money.
Long story short: the Florida courts have committed to “clearing” a bunch of backlogged foreclosure cases, many of which are tainted by fraud at some point in the mortgage process. Rather than putting the onus on the banks to prove that they deserve to seize the home, the courts are basically assuming that foreclosures are valid, and seizing homes from their owners. This is the story of one woman who has made her payments every month, and is about to lose her home — because the payments were going to a crook, who stole the money. She was defended by lousy lawyers, and mistreated by the courts.
Miami Herald, take it away:
All she wanted was $50,000 from the equity in her house to help pay the bills while looking for a job in nursing. What Imogene Hall got was a brutal lesson in the sometimes shady ways of the mortgage industry.
It’s a lesson learned by untold numbers of homeowners in Florida, epicenter of the foreclosure crisis gripping the nation.
“Everywhere I turn, someone else is scamming me,” said Hall, a 49-year-old Jamaican immigrant who stands to lose her Miami Gardens home the Monday after Thanksgiving. “All I do is work hard, and I get surrounded by thieves.”
A review of court records found evidence of misconduct at nearly every stage of Hall’s experience….
Seriously, worth a read.