Imagine you lose your job and are unable to make your mortgage payments. You try to work with your bank, but it’s unclear what you need to do to get current on your mortgage. Imagine that you continue to fall further and further behind on your payments.

That’s what happened to Camille Kokason, the sole breadwinner in a family of five from East New York. Camille lost her job when the recession hit in 2007, and she could no longer make timely mortgage payments. Camille’s mortgage servicer was hard to reach and didn’t provide her with affordable repayment options. Realizing she wouldn’t be able to bring her mortgage current without assistance, Camille sought help.

Camille turned to one of our partners, City Bar Justice Center, where she connected with Livia Corredor, the co-director of Legal Affairs at Brooklyn-based real estate developer Forest City Ratner Companies. Livia negotiated with the mortgage servicer before a judge to secure an affordable loan modification on Camille’s first mortgage. Camille’s second mortgage still presented a challenge after the modification of the first loan, so she continued to work with Livia.

Livia continued negotiations with Camille’s second mortgage servicer, but she faced many obstacles. She received different information about the loan from multiple representatives. On one occasion a representative told her Camille’s mortgage was current, on another occasion they told her Camille’s balance was completely paid off. She described the experience as “draining.” During this time, multiple parties offered to buy Camille out of her property or enticed her to fill out paperwork for a short sale, including someone from a church. Camille held out hope that she could keep her home.

Livia’s hard work finally paid off when they started working with the Center’s Escalations Program and applied for a loan from the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP). Livia wanted to use a MAP loan to pay off Camille’s second mortgage entirely. Unfortunately, Camille’s servicer refused to negotiate the payoff. Candybelle Acevedo at the Center helped to escalate Camille’s case with the mortgage servicer. The Escalations Program leverages established relationships with staff at banks and mortgage servicers to resolve complex cases as quickly as possible. After negotiations were complete, Camille closed her MAP loan to pay off her second mortgage.

Camille now has an affordable and sustainable mortgage payment so she can continue to live in her home with her family. Homeowners who need assistance with their mortgage can call the Homeowner Protection Program hotline at 855-HOME-456 (855-466-3456) to be connected to help free of charge.