Bank of America shows mercy
Bank of America often demands headlines for illegal foreclosures, foreclosing on the wrong address or badgering a newly widowed woman, but this week,
a California couple who chose health insurance for the wife’s final stages of Lou Gehrig’s (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS) over paying their mortgage in the home the bought 15 years ago, the same home where the husband was raised. Until recently, the choice led to eviction notices which were delayed by bankruptcy but became pursued again by Bank of America this fall as they have not paid their mortgage for nearly four years.
Bank of America has offered to allow the couple to stay in the home until after the wife’s death and after a decent mourning period for the husband, a display of grace and mercy that is not common at major national banks.
Six years ago, the wife’s ALS was diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar problems which led to a series of costly, and ultimately unnecessary surgeries that failed to repair the weakness in her arms that was later diagnosed as ALS. Her nursing assistant job was difficult for her as she could no longer push her cart or open pill bottles, so in 2005, the couple opted to give her time to recuperate so she could get back to work. Meanwhile, they refinanced their home under the assumption she would begin work again soon.
She never did get to return to work
She never returned to work and finally, in 2007, she was diagnosed with ALS at the same time as her husband’s construction business went under. The couple felt that their only option was for both of them to rely on Supplemental Security Income of $700 and $1,100 per month he received as her “In-Home Supportive Services caregiver” which barely covered medicine let alone the $1,500 monthly payment to their mortgage. If they received any income outside of that $1,800, they would be disqualified for publicly supported Medi-Cal coverage.
Bank of America enrolled them in a hardship program but the wife was in too much pain to leave home and attend the mandatory credit counseling sessions, so they were foreclosed upon in March of this year.
The disease is in its final stages and the wife is expected to pass soon – her movement is now restricted to only one thumb. The couple has been involved in their religious organization for many years which has rallied around them, helping with care and holding Bible study at the couple’s home each week. The home where they raised their children is said to mean the world to her and is her peace.
“They called and said it’s on hold until Claire dies, and then they’ll give me additional time to grieve before I have to be out,” the husband told The Sacramento Bee. “Praise God. It’s a miracle. It’s a big relief… They said I should spend time with my wife and take care of her.”