In California, 236,000 homes were lost to foreclosure in 2008, and an additional 190,360 were foreclosed upon in 2009.
The housing boom and bust that consumed Southern California cost many people their homes, their savings and their jobs. The emotional repercussions of those changes are still rippling through families across the state. Here are first-hand accounts from five Southern California families as they deal with the reality of losing their homes.
Trustee's sale #08-0116495: Michael and Betty Palmer bought their modest Pomona home as the housing market began to boom. Like many others, they were convinced the escalating equity was as good as cash. The mortgage is upside-down and the house went into foreclosure last April.
Current status: They were approved for a loan modification last fall, but have yet to receive any final notification. "We should have had our new loan a long time ago," Michael Palmer said. "We have no idea what happened." He said there is some confusion at the bank, which says the loan was canceled and approved, depending on whom he talks with. "It just unraveled or something."
Trustee's sale #08-229241: Lulu and Erik Jimenez sought help with their unmanageable mortgage in 2008 after she had to leave her job in the fashion industry due to a complicated pregnancy. They sought help from a law group and were instructed them to stop making their house payments. Months later, they received a foreclosure notice and moved to an Upland apartment.
Current status: The Jimenez family now rents a home in Fontana and Erik no longer has to commute to Las Vegas anymore for his flooring business. "We are now trying to figure out how to file taxes for the lost home," Lulu said. "It stuns me how there is little information out there for people like us who lost our home. How do we file? Do we go for bankruptcy, or not?"
Trustee's sale #08-01166500: Construction worker Ismael Cervantes owned a home in a historic Pomona neighborhood. As the economy crashed, so did his opportunity to work. He resorted to selling everything he owned to try to make payments on his upside down mortgage. He persisted in the face of foreclosure proceedings, and was able to short-sale his home.
Current status: Ismael, his wife, Analilia, and their three children now rent a home in Ontario.
Trustee's sale #09-233119: Melissa Baker and Ruben Pulido were happy in their Ontario rental home. Despite problems with the quality of the house, they were upset when they found out the landlord allowed the property to lapse into foreclosure. They lived in a nearby motel for a month and faced the real prospect of becoming homeless.
Current status: Baker and Pulido are both currently unemployed and share an apartment with Melissa's mother in Ontario.
Trustee's sale #08-0116495: Mohammed Ashraf and Brenda Duchemin found their dream home in Diamond Bar. As they were moving from a Brea condo, the housing market crashed and they were left with two mortgages, plus another on an investment property in Las Vegas. Both suffered debilitating injuries and could not find work. A foreclosure notice was posted on their front door in July and they've been navigating their way through federal bankruptcy court in a last-ditch effort to keep their Daimond Bar home.
Current status: Ashraf and Duchemin lost two homes to auction, were forced to file for bankrupcy in 2009, and are struggling to stay in their Diamond Bar home. "We can't afford to stay in our home, but we can't afford to move," Duchemin said.