Losing Our Way

No Telling

My God. Between the Wall Street golden parachuting and the tiresome Dance of the House in D.C., between posturing politicians and winking ambition, there is Addie Polk.

(CNN) — A 90-year-old Akron, Ohio, woman who shot herself as sheriff’s deputies tried to evict her from her foreclosed home became a symbol of the nation’s home mortgage crisis Friday.

Fannie Mae foreclosed on the Akron, Ohio, home of Addie Polk, 90, after acquiring the mortgage in 2007.

Addie Polk is being treated at Akron General Medical Center after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wednesday afternoon, her city councilman said. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, mentioned Polk on the House floor Friday during debate over the latest economic rescue proposal.

“This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world,” Kucinich said after telling her story. “This bill fails to address the fact that millions of homeowners are facing foreclosure, are facing the loss of their home. This bill will take care of Wall Street, and the market may go up for a few days, but democracy is going downhill.”

Neighbor Robert Dillon used a ladder to enter a second-story window of Polk’s home after he and the deputies heard bangs inside, Dillon told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I just thought she may have fell or couldn’t get up or something,” he told WEWS. “I didn’t know [she had shot herself] until I got in there. And even when I got there, she was breathing, but she wasn’t saying anything to me. I knew she needed help then.”

Dillon said he saw blood when he put his hand on Polk’s shoulder.

“There’s a lot of people like Miss Polk right now. That’s the sad thing about it,” said Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville, who had met Polk before and rushed to the scene when contacted by police. “They might not be as old as her, some could be as old as her. This is just a major problem.”

In 2004, Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The same day, she also took out an $11,380 line of credit.

Over the next couple of years Polk missed payments on the 101-year-old home and in 2007 Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage and later filed for foreclosure.

Deputies had tried to serve Polk’s eviction notice more than 30 times before Wednesday’s incident, Sommerville said. She never came to the door, but the notes the deputies left would always disappear, so they knew she was inside and ambulatory, he said.

A recent Akron City Council study identified a number of lenders whose practices it deemed predatory.

“I get a lot of calls about this predatory lending where people are elderly and they’re probably living on a fixed income and they get somebody to give them some money,” Sommerville said. “Then they get in a situation where if they miss a payment they lose their house. I don’t think people quite understand what happens.”

The city is creating programs to help people keep their homes, he said. “But what do you do when there’s just so many people out there and the economy is in the shape that it’s in?”

Many businesses and individuals have called since Wednesday offering to help Polk,
Sommerville said.

“We’re going to do an evaluation to see what’s best for her,” he said. “If she’s strong enough and can go home, I think we should work with her to where she goes back home. If not, we need to find another place for her to live where she won’t have to worry about this ever again.”

He said that by the time people call for help with an impending foreclosure, it’s
usually too late.

“I’m glad it’s not too late for Miss Polk, because she could have taken her life,” Sommerville said. “Miss Polk will probably end up on her feet. But I’m not sure if anybody else will.”

I’m ashamed of us. One of these suave and semi-suave candidates had better do something for Addie and those like her, and be damn quick about it. And sincere. Fix it on the quiet and don’t use her as a campaign commercial. Just save her because it’s the right thing to do when our moral compasses have forgotten true north. Let Addie Polk finish her life in dignity.

UPDATE! Just found this (10/4) on CNN.com…

Fannie Mae Forgives Loan for Woman Who Shot Herself

I’m sending Mrs. Polk some flowers right now.

6 thoughts on “Losing Our Way

  1. This made me think of my residents and then it made me think of my parents and it broke my heart. I don’t even understand the world we live in right now and frankly I don’t like it much. I hope whoever wins this election will actually do something to help people like Addie Polk, but I don’t feel real optimistic about it.

  2. I tell you, Candace, I just can’t stand it. Can’t get past the moment when the sheriff’s knocking and she picks up a gun.Makes my heart hurt and it makes me furious.

  3. How terrible! That is maddening and just so sad. I am re-reading & it's so unimaginable, yet it happened.I knew the bail out wasn't going to be a good thing and I was hoping for something for the people, not the banks. Hoping, even though I knew it wouldn't go the way the public wanted. By the people, for the people – what would the people have voted for in this bail out situation?Still trying to get over the awfulness of Addie Polk. I keep seeing images of older people I've known & loved & it hits me in the gut.

  4. While of course any of us would feel a giant sorrow at the idea of any 90-year-old being foreclosed on, did anyone think to help her pay her debt? Did the thought come to any one of those who read this? I wish the best to Addie and to all those like her, but rather than trying to make her the poster child of the “hurting middle class”, let’s make her a <>symbol of helping one another. Voluntarily.<> I want MY charity to go towards people like this…not disappear into the pockets of people (debtors OR debtees) who got into the position they are in because of greed or stupidity. Those debtees, and the politicians who make the rules, are the LAST people who should have the power to manipulate OUR billions of dollars. Already today, the press is referring to the money as “Paulson’s billions”…

  5. They may be the last persons we want making decisions about how the money is spent, but they are the ones spending it. It’s done. No one called my house and asked what I thought about Paulson’s Billions, and the deal went through despite D.C.’s blinding email response from The People.Clearly, our voices are only loudest at the polls. I don’t like it, but there it is.I don’t know how they do it in Ohio (where Mrs. Polk lives), but around here we check on each other as best we can, help out to the best of our ability. We are our brother’s keeper and we’re aware of it all our lives.What I want is the name and face of the broker who sat across the table from Mrs. Polk four years ago, and told a (then) 86 year old-woman that sure, she could get a 43k loan on a home worth 38k on a 30 year note. And a line of credit. What kind of con-man (or woman) could ethically do such a thing? We talk about those at the top who are responsible, but I’d like to hold accountable the uncountable thieves who made a fast buck without any concern for the welfare of these people. Mrs. Polk (as of today) will have her loan forgiven because this made the news. If she leaves the hospital she’ll get her house back, although I’m not sure how well a 90 year-old woman can recover from two slugs in the chest. The decision to save homeowners shouldn’t begin with attempted suicide and media coverage. We can save quite a few Mrs. Polks for the cost of just one corporate golden parachute. Don’t get me started.

  6. My aunt lost her home a couple of years ago. She had taken out a line of credit to live on while she took care of her husband who was terminally ill. After he died (with no life insurance), she had to pay off his medical bills and she got further and further behind in her payments. So she went into foreclosure. And her family tried to help. But they wouldn’t let us just pay the back payments– there were thousands of dollars in fees tacked on. She probably should have filed for bankruptcy– but I am not sure how much that would have helped anymore after the “reform” that W sponsored a couple of years ago. I hate the bailout. It is too late to help the most vulnerable, and doesn’t begin to address the homeowners– just the investors. Why are my tax dollars being spent to bail out investors? God knows I need every penny I can get to pay off my student loans.

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