Impact 5: Bank makes rare exception to keep 87-year-old woman from living on the streets

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Irene Jones lived with her husband in their Riviera Beach home for 37 years. When he passed away in 2009, Mrs. Jones thought she was going to be homeless.

"I don't know no other place. I pray to God that I don't be out on the streets," Jones said.

She and her husband took out a mortgage on their home in 2002 to pay off credit cards. The balance quickly grew from $25,000 to $37,000 because of taxes and fees.

Mrs. Jones turned to the Legal Aid Society of the Palm Beaches for help, and that's where she met attorney Maxine Cheesman.

"Every Sunday I come and give her breakfast and she gives me mangos. We just have a good relationship now. I'm just so glad she has come into my life"

Cheesman says after working a year to find a solution with Bank of America, she was getting nowhere.

"Come on, it's not right to put an 87-year-old woman out of her home for $25,000. Bank of America eats that all of the time," Cheesman said.

She was proposing a short payoff.  That's when the lender settles the loan for less than is owed. Kind of like a short sale. But in a short payoff, the homeowner agrees to pay some or all of the difference owed through an unsecured loan.

"It's not the routine. That's probably why we couldn't get anywhere with the bank," Cheesman said.

A reverse mortgage will help pay for the short payoff.

Cheesman was only able to get results after contacting the president of Bank of America directly.

A Bank of America spokesperson released this statement saying "Bank of America is committed to providing alternatives to foreclosure whenever possible and offers several different programs designed to help customers stay in their homes. Nevertheless, not every customer's situation fits within available program guidelines. As we consider a unique situation with extreme hardship on a case-by-case basis, we may have the option to take extraordinary steps. We are pleased that we were able to find a housing solution for Mrs. Jones."

"She won't have to pay another mortgage payment and she can live in peace and harmony for the rest of her life," Cheesman said.

Experts say if you're able to negotiate a short payoff, it won't negatively effect your credit as much as a short sale, because you're agreeing to pay back the loan.

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