Two weeks ago, Jack Silverman posted about the plight--sadly far from uncommon--of Molly Secours, the Nashville activist/filmmaker and cancer patient who's facing the imminent loss of her home. Why? According to Secours, the lenders at First Franklin Loan Services who never gave a damn about her until she missed a payment have proved unwilling
to discuss a settlement that might let her keep her house.
Just to recap: First Franklin Loan Services, now owned by $45 billion bailout baby Bank of America, wants to take away the home of a cancer patient who has fallen behind in payments--not because of neglect, but because of catastrophic medical expenses. Now she's told her mortgage is held in a trust with the prefix of corporate-welfare moneypit Merrill Lynch. For the $131,000 that former Merrill CEO John Thain reportedly spent on two rugs
, Secours could own her whole house.
Unfortunately for them, Secours is a fighter. With media coverage of her case just a shove away from going viral, she's taking her battle to the very top: an open letter to President Barack Obama. Full text after the jump.
Dear President Obama:
I wish this letter were simply a congratulatory note thanking you for
the sacrifices and struggles your family has made in order for you to
become our 44th President. Your victory has been a personal highlight
for me. And like millions of others I, perhaps for the first time,
feel hope and optimism.
Although I write you today about my personal struggle, I am only one
of countless others facing the same fate: foreclosure. As you read
the following paragraphs, imagine the millions in a similar
I'm a freelance writer/filmmaker living in Nashville TN. A year and a
half ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and spent much of last
year in chemotherapy and radiation. In spite of never missing a single
mortgage payment during the entire time of treatment--thanks to all my
friends in Nashville and across the world--I have for the past 8
months been unable to convince First Franklin Loan Services (owned by
Bank Of America) to refinance my 9.8% loan. With the accumulated
medical bills and debt incurred during chemo, it was my only hope of
keeping my home. I was later told that until I was 2 months behind in
payments, negotiations were unlikely.
Well now I am nearly three months behind, and only because of your
moratorium on foreclosures will my March 2nd deadline be pushed back
to March 12th. But according to First Franklin, I do not qualify for
refinancing under your program.
After weeks of persistent inquiry, it turns out that of course First
Franklin can't refinance my loan. First Franklin doesn't even possess
my loan. When I asked for the name and number of the person who
possessed my loan and who might help me refinance, I was told that my
mortgage was actually packaged in a trust under the name 'Merrill
Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-2'. Not surprising, he couldn't
give me a good contact number for these Merrill Lynch First Franklin
folks. Out on a Caribbean cruise, I imagine.
I was further told that First Franklin Loan Services priority and
commitment is to be fair to the owner of the loan underwritten under
their guidelines and that the terms to my loan could not be altered.
Are you still with me, Mr. President?
As part of my cancer recovery I have been advised to keep a low stress
level in order to assure continued remission. Mr. President I must be
honest. While going through chemotherapy and radiation was
excruciating at times, dealing with the devious and rather underhanded
practices of First Franklin Loan Services (Bank Of America) over this
past 8 months has been almost as brutal--and in some ways even worse.
Last summer, in spite of the massive debt and medical bills, I still
had good enough credit to refinance my 9.8% loan with another bank.
But because First Franklin refused to forgive the exorbitant
pre-payment penalty, my house was upside down in value and refinancing
with a reputable bank became impossible. Eight months later because of
the economy, my house is valued at $18,500 less than I owe, and now
selling and/or renting are no longer options.
The details of obstruction and uncooperative dealings with First
Franklin are endless and I know you have heard the same stories from
people across the country so I'll spare you the specifics.
What can you do? When Bank Of America appears before Congress next
month, please demand that they answer the following questions. While
it may be too late for me by then, maybe it will help millions of
1) What exactly are the 'guidelines' that loan service providers
like First Franklin Loan Services are held to in their agreements with
folks like Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-02?
2) Can these guidelines be made public for ALL Americans? Since
First Franklin claims that for people like me that 'there is no way to
alter the guidelines governing' my loan. Perhaps transparency might
3) We already know that First Franklin Loan Services is owned by
Bank Of America. Mr. President, I am wondering why First Franklin
Loan Services was unable to benefit from the bail out package received
by Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America this past year? That way they
could work with folks like me to stay in their homes.
4) Given that the trustees of my loan are "Merrill Lynch" I am
thinking maybe there is a way to locate some of the funds allocated to
help people in my situation? How many billions of dollars was it that
Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America received? Perhaps Congress would
help First Franklin Loan Services garner some of that or the new
stimulus money from their parent company Bank Of America?
5) I am interested in knowing if I go into foreclosure would the
tax benefit go to "Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust" or would
it go to First Franklin Loan Services or would Bank Of America receive
the tax write off? This might help me understand more why it has been
so difficult to make an agreement before now. There must be some
great foreclosure benefits for so many people to be on the verge of
losing their homes.
You see Mr. President, I'm not looking for a bailout or a hand out.
I'm just looking for a good faith deal and fair shake without the
smoke and mirrors.
Like millions of Americans, my house is not just the place where I
sleep and eat. It is a source of comfort and healing. And although it
is true, home is where your heart is, these days my heart is my home.
On behalf of millions who are facing fiscal, emotional and physical
devastation, thank you for your leadership, compassion and