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

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 8, 2010
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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


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


71 Responses to “Citi Mortgage—don’t foreclose—let me pay my mortgage again.”

  1. Wow.

    I may live here, but I don't own it, the bank does. As they're making clear. I just paid the mortgage on it for for years, and fixed it up bit by bit.

    If truly poor folks complain, they have the right to do so, however much it may inconvenience you.

    Being poor doesn't always suck. My mom was dirt poor, never made more than maybe $20K teaching, but growing up I had a great life with her. I don't mind being "poor."

    And I'm trying to pull myself up and out. That's the American Dream. We "complaining poor people" have the right to make something of ourselves, and have a home to raise a family in, and that's what I'm trying to do.

    Thanks for kicking me while I'm down, it's easy…especially while doing so under the veil of "toobadsosad." Very brave and generous of you.

    I hope I get to meet you in person, some day, and we can talk about it like human beings, if you like.

  2. Thanks, Andy. I didn't have any money to put down, and it was a rare time I was able to buy in. As I said above, it was a risk, but I had the income from the magazine, which was doing very well. It was my decision to maintain our eco-integrity as a business over my personal financial security.

  3. Dear Friends who are Reading These Commetns,

    Could anyone with some compassion or similar experiences leave a comment, here? I know comments are often/always mean online, but this is really vulnerable for me, just talking about this, and reading some of these comments, the tone is kinda mean. I don't mind criticism, I can learn from it. I appreciate it. But getting kicked by anonymous meanies, it never gets easier.

    Still, it's good for me to be open about it, 'cause it keeps pressure on Citi. I know I made mistakes. But I'm fighting, doing my best, and elephant is back after only a year's transition online, and we're able to be bigger, greener, free to readers, and cover far more.

  4. cac says:

    I have to agree with Dana: <These are a compassionate neo buddhist / yogi's?? wow. HellO.> What's done is done and What Waylon needs is less judgement and more support. It took a lot for him to even share this. I know there are literally millions of ppl going through what he is going through. Nearly all suffer in silence. If you want to call him on the carpet for "going beyond his means" then I suggest you look at your own life. Nearly every American got caught up in the zeitgeist of that time, maybe not in the house they bought but in racking up debt and etc. Average household credit card debt was $9,000 at that time, even before the recession. I don't know, I think some people are just mean. Let he/she who is w/o sin cast the first stone. Why throw eggs at W. in public like that. What is this Puritan Buddhism? Find love and compassion or go read citibank's blog. lovya Waylon.

  5. Deborah Keys says:

    Waylon this is a problem happening to many Americans. Obama made it possible for home owners to get relief by taxpayers bailing them out. Yet very few home owners are getting the relief that has been set up. Greed, Greed and more Greed. Its not your fault. I have a friend who managed to get help with her motrgage I will try to get the info and send it to you. hang in there. Don't give up.

  6. squashcomingup says:

    i can only relate to this as similar to my student loans (pay 1/2 your income or nothing at all!!!, they said- would not accept less, and sorry i couldn't survive on half my income, until i became unemployed, haha)….tough luck….I think i'm still in dumb shock from about 10 years ago that buying a house for 1/2 million has become nearly normal in some areas (i've lived in Boulder, and Palo Alto, and Seattle, but i'm 40 and i don't own a house (and probably never will, until i can find a way to build one for about 20K or something). Could never afford to buy a house where i live now either. Seems like it would be cheaper (& more fun) to build anyway. Honestly I am sorry to hear of this predicament, snafu, etc. and i hope it gets resolved to your satisfaction, but one thing out of this housing crisis that might be good ?? is less inflated housing prices….i mean, 1/2 mill? The last time i was visiting Boulder i was totally overwhelmed by all the new building, and housing prices (i left the city in 98)….just seemed like a bubble that would eventually burst…..

  7. Jess says:

    Citi cancelled a credit card of mine last for which I carried a zero balance and paid in full consistently when it was used because in their words, "I wasn't profitable for them." When I appeal the decision they said they couldn't reverse it because I have too much credit. I had a 10 year relationship with Citi: the first 8 were awesome, the last 2 have been an experiment in poor customer service and bad client relationships.

  8. Jennifer Hunt says:

    It’s interesting to read these responses. It’s a bit upsetting that people are so hung up with your past choices, of which were made to the best of your knowledge given what you knew at the time.

    Please remember, friends, no one, including Waylon, could have foreseen what happened to the economy, what happened to the housing market, and what the effect of the mag going exclusively online.

    Waylon, I think you could have used more helpful responses on what to do moving forward instead of what people seemed to think that you did wrong… since they seem to think that you are omnipotent. I don’t know you personally, but I would assume, as wonderful as you may be, you are still privy to the same temporal laws that the rest of us are. I don’t understand people’s need to focus on what can’t be changed… seems to be a waste of time and energy.

    So, looking ahead… I have nothing to offer but my hopes for the very best outcome. I worked for one of ‘those’ companies for almost 10 years until they decided to refer to us only as numbers and I became aware of situations, much like yours, and how easily they could have been remedied with a little compassion. I wouldn’t expect any compassion on their part, but it wouldn’t hurt to hope. May the outcome be what allows you to move forward with the least amount of suffering 🙂

  9. JenniferKH says:

    hmmm… sorry, I meant 'omniscient'.. but maybe both given what they expected of you. I applaud your honesty, candor, and open vulnerability. Very admirable. My heart goes out to you in your situation.

  10. Waylon I understand the people who say you should have bought smaller but I'm sure they have alot of should haves too. The main point is what you said, most banks will put the unpaid part on the end and let you continue paying. Keep fighting . I think you will get there. If not there is life after foreclosure as I know from personal experience.

  11. rjz says:

    "Waylon needs less judgment and more support." Sure, OK. I love you Waylon. You're awesome. Your mistakes and economic miscalculations are forgiven. Now, if you would be so kind and loving as to forgive the bank for just doing their job and covering their assets, we'd have a bit more love in the world.

    Honestly, I don't know the whole situation. I can't tell. Did Waylon stop paying and has offered to start again, but too late for the bank's taste? Does he have the 500K now? Without knowing more details, about the only thing I can conculde is that, at least for a period of time, he was in breach of contract. Great, I'm not judging him. Niether is the bank. But facing the music and honoring your promises is also part of life on the middle path.

    I think he'll probably figure this out. It wouldn't be that good for the bank to put it up for foreclosure if he really does have the money, but for all those who want forgiveness…I hope you'll demonstrate some respect for me next time and start living an honest life you can afford. I am getting pretty tired of bailing you out, whether you're a bank or an individual.

  12. I'm pulling for Waylon simply because he's a very good guy and I love Elephant Journal.

  13. d.nono says:

    Wayne, good luck dealing with Citi. From what's been reported recently the foreclosure rate is slowing down given that banks are finally seeing that it's better to have someone in the house, paying anything monthly sum, rather than having it sit empty – I do hope you get to benefit from this trend and can re-negotiate the terms.

    I'm not sure why the naysayers are piping up with their rather un-compassionate comments – it seems to me that you're recognizing your own role in the situation and are willing to do what it takes to make it right.

    I'm really bothered by this assumption (as made by naysayers) WRT folks in your situation that 'you should take your lumps' or 'should've known better', none of us can predict the future and yet most of us engage in long-term pursuits with the best of intentions. Risk is inherent in any pursuit, as you, Wayne, seem to recognize (i.e., experiencing first-hand) and all of us take on risks on a minute-by-minute basis. The smallest of daily factors can impact each of our lives for the better or for the worse.

    So for those of you who feel as though you're snug in your secure positions, housing, families and are openly confident in your pursuits – enough so to criticize another (especially when you have so little information) – all I can say to you is that I hope you learn from Wayne's experience (and from the thousands of others) without having to go through the same process.

    For the record, I'm on the lucky edge of that risk – given the poor economy (stagnating wages, increasing debt obligations) being able to re-finance my mortgage provides my family with the cushion to start saving money again. I count myself lucky and I recognize that I could easily be in a similar situation to you Wayne.

    Again, good luck Wayne.

  14. lindsey says:

    Waylon, your eagerness to learn shines through by your willingness to talk about this in such a public forum. I know you are doing the best you can, like all of us are, and I'll continue to support, always, in the spirit of compassion.

  15. Andy says:

    Shit, now I feel bad. I always regret making hasty, emotional comments on the internet. Hey–I bought for the first time right around the same time you did; essentially RIGHT before the big housing crash. I probably would have sold my house a long time ago were it not for depreciation. I am fortunate that I can continue to pay my mortgage. And also—let me just say, I definitely admire you for having the capacity and balls to take big risks. But still I mean—let's be real here. When you don't pay your mortgage for a YEAR, you get forclosed on. That's just the shittay reality. It's great your business is picking up now, but how is the bank to be assured you will be able to continue to make good on this loan? All that said, I would take the advice of others here and maybe find someone to negotiate on your behalf. Good luck. West of 9th St rules and is as quaint as a motherfucker. I used to live in that 'hood. Wish I still did.

  16. I posted this on my Facebook – hoping to help get the word out for you and to help you save your home….. if Citi doesn't let you pay and stay, perhaps someone who buys it will sell it back to you…. that would be super sweet.
    Best of luck…. remember – Karma – you do good, good will happen. I have a good feeling this will work out just fine for you and you will be able to stay in your home. Thanks for all you do to bring awareness to the readers of ele — about really important topics… I'm proud to be part of the elephant journal family.

  17. Dance With The Devil says:

    Wouldn't the more sustainable choice have been to get the loan from a local credit union rather than some multinational corporate bank?? You have to know what you're getting into when you get into bed with the latter.

  18. squashcomingup says:

    just a thought – kind of an aside – ppl did predict the housing crisis – maybe not to the extent that it has played out, but we never predict the worst do we? i left CO in 2000 (partially b/c i couldn't afford to live there…i was living in a studio apt for $375 (Denver), and nice one bedrooms were going for $800. I came back in 2004 to a drastically reduced rents (apts i had coveted were now in my price range). When prices rose so steeply in CO in my last few years there it reminded me of the dot com bubble "bursting" a few years earlier/simultaneously in the Bay Area where i grew up. It just didn't seem sustainable to me. By the time i left there was a crack house selling for almost 400K on the corner which had been a quarter of that the previous year. For those ppl with good credit who always pay their credit cards on time (more power to ya!), unfortunately, the system is now set up so that legally doesn't even do you any good anymore. They will and can sometimes charge you more for paying on time.. I agree, a mediator sounds like a good plan for Waylon. I hope it works out!

  19. Sydney Solis says:

    Very sorry to hear the news. I really feel for you. I've heard the best strategy is to make them "produce the note." They've probably sold it off to a zillion different people via credit default swaps, etc. and can't do it I don't buy the "you made a deal, you should pay, tough it up." This was systematic deception by the big banks on a massive scale. Bank of America one of the biggest frauds. Americans swept up into odious debt, and you know, a la Goldman Sachs, they were betting on making money by having you default. That is the American way these days, my friend. But all this massive deception and usurious lending is coming to and end and the veil is going to be lifted soon. Mainstream media is a pack of lies. The economy isn't improving, it's going down the tubes fast, (read foreign and underground press) but Bernanke and his fools keep propping it up desperately. The greatest depression will swoop down on America very soon. I suggest you write about gardening and knitting and how to start local cottage industries of basic services. Here in Argentina where I am visiting, they've seen it before and are surviving. It will happen to America overnight, like it did here. But don't worry, it's a good thing. Things must change. The American Dream has turned into the American Nightmare, living on funny money and sucking the resources out of the rest of the world for free and destroying the environment to boot. And look at the upside – when you lose everything you gain yourself. And then you have nothing to lose and you will be free. It's all empty anyway, remember? So stop grasping and lamenting. I've been there and I can tell you it's true. Keep up the good faith and good work. And I agree, write about things of more substance than eco-chic, like fighting for education and social good. Anything else is meaningless for what's coming and keeps readers trapped in frivolous consumerism and vapid lives disguised as enlightened living. You are a great guy and don't blame yourself. It's a vampire system out there and you, and I and all of us fell in to the trap. Check out Buenos Aires, cheap rent, cheap food, health care for $100 a month! Run your internet business from here! I'm looking into it, and scouting out other places around the world to help those still in the US manage the collapse!. Boulder prices is a racquet and there really is another world outside its bubble. And once you get outside that bubble, it becomes so very clear. ¡Buena suerte! ¡Viva la Revolución!

  20. yeye says:

    Dear Way 🙂

    WHO is Citi ??? Very humbly and with all the love i feel for America, I am daring to say that this country's big problem when trying to solve challenging situations is the constant habit to institutionalize life. No responsibility is experienced by the human being, the father, the son, the husband, the wife, the mother, the sister, who behind your case, sits and decides to sign you off your home using the name of Citi while taking your money.

    Who decides to not accept Obama's plan? Why? What is the logic behind it? Where is the sense of it? Who is responsible for this decision?… Get personal…get into the individual consciouness… touch…Who's name is under the signature that will foreclose your home?

    Call Obama ~ get personal ~