June 8, 2010

Citi Mortgage—don’t foreclose—let me pay my mortgage again.

Citi not accepting Obama Plan.

Would rather foreclose than allow homeowner to pay full mortgage again now that business is back on its feet and doing well after significant transition online in tough economy.

Foreclosures are still at record levels, once again. But no one’s talking.

It might help encourage Citi to allow me to pay my full mortgage again, if you’re inspired to make some noise! Spread the word by posting this to your Wall or tweeting (tweet below in bold). ~ WL.

Citi, help Americans stay in their homes.

A year and a half ago, in the midst of a tanking economy, I took my successful, national magazine online. In so doing, I lost just about all my advertising support. I lost my staff; my offices. I gave up my car. I haven’t traveled, or taken a break, in the nearly two years since.

And I’ve been glad to work hard, and rebuild my business online. I’ve even been, if not happy, fine with counting quarters again (something I hadn’t done since college) as I’ve gone nearly two years without being able to pay myself consistently—instead choosing to return any salary to elephant, and thus keep it alive. At one point, I went three months without being able to use either of my debit cards, for business or personal—both were empty. I’ve survived thanks to a few advertisers, my good health—and elbow grease.

It’s a typical entrepreneur’s story, really—only this one is less about the American Dream than corporate callousness—so far.

You see, I’m making money again. I’m ready and eager to pay my mortgage, in full—no favors needed here. But CitiMortgage, who holds my mortgage, would rather foreclose. Many mortgage companies, presented with a homeowner who’s back on her or his feet, would simply tack what we owe onto the end of the mortgage, plus fines and late fees, and allow said homeowner to save their home.

Not Citi.

My foreclosure date is set for August 18th.

I haven’t talked about it much, until recently. It’s a rather shameful, depressing, stressful thing: losing one’s home.

But recently, my tendency toward transparency got the better of me. I tweeted about it (I have a pretty big, powerful twitter account) and got an immediate response from Citi. Two weeks later, they haven’t done anything helpful, and I still assume they’d just as soon foreclose as allow me to once again pay my mortgage.

But it’s got me thinking: if I’m going to be forced out of the house I’ve invested four years of my mortgage payments into, that I’ve extensively renovated for efficiency, that I hope/d to have a family in, one day—why not go out with a bang, a roar, rather than an ashamed whimper?

So I’ll keep making noise, though this is of course a little painful. If you’d like to support, tweet:

RT @elephantjournal Citi Mortgage not acceptg Obama Plan, wld rathr foreclose at this pt v allow me 2 pay full amnt. Help? RT! #mortgage

I’m in talks to throw a Foreclosure Party “not sponsored by CitiMortgage” at the 1,200 person (if you take out the chairs) iconic Boulder Theater. That’s largely thanks to some friends who have volunteered to throw, and publicize, such a party. I’ll get some mainstream press on it—it’s a hot issue, and a great Denver PR firm, some friends of friends [Duo Marketing & PR, see logo below ~ed] is offering their services. I’ve invited some big speakers (Dr. Deepak Chopra) and bands (Michael Franti) to rock the party. No RSVPs from them, yet, but I’m optimistic.

Finally, when I look back at this in 10 years, whatever happens, I’ll still say this:

When our artists, our entrepreneurs, work themselves hard, don’t eat properly, don’t pay themselves for awhile…well, America is supposed to give her citizens a chance to succeed. We are the land of opportunity. We don’t give handouts. But we do reward hard work. Have we forgotten the American Dream?

PS: Full disclosure: my mortgage with Citi is approx $550,000. It’s a pricey town, especially if you want to live downtown and bike everyday, which saves some dough. I wanted to live where I grew up. If I am able to stay in my eco-renovated 2,000 sq foot home, I’d get a roommate, and two roommates after I renovate my basement. And my business will continue to be based out of here. We’re using the space thoroughly, and our consumption here is minimal…our various electric, water, and gas bills are close to zero—or better—offset by solar, or hardly used. ~ WL

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