Foreclosure, Obama and VH1 Soul


I owe President Barack Obama and his Congress a “Thank You” card. It’s late on a Thursday night, and I’m sitting in my new apartment of two weeks, watching videos on VH1 Soul and contemplating if I’m going to eat the last two hot wings slowly congealing on the paper plate beside me. Don’t worry, there’s no Black comedian-contrived connection between my Obama affinity and hot sauce-glazed fowl. I’m grateful to Obama because of why and how I’m here, instead of in my momma’s house being fussed at for leaving the refrigerator door open (kidding Mom!).

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One hot, sticky afternoon in July, I was sitting in a rectangular grey cell, more commonly referred to as cubicle. Like any other day I divided my time between churning out the shift’s workload and imagining that a midsummer snow storm would miraculously appear, forcing the office to close early. As usual, the work came, went, and came again, unlike the beautiful snow flurries I had been hoping for. I did however receive an unsettling phone call from my roommate.


He had just gotten word that our landlord had secretly defaulted on the mortgage, and that the house we had been renting for the past 4 years was going up on the auction block the following Tuesday. It was the Thursday before the three-day 4th of July weekend, which only left us with one workday to make as many calls as possible before the big sell date.


The words knocked me in the chest like an 8th grade bully hell bent on jacking my Lunchables snack pack . Needless to say, the whole situation left us both with an overabundance of questions and no clear path in which to find the answers. The role of “displaced renter” wasn’t exactly a part either one of us was eager to play, so we decided to hit up our various contacts, friends, and family for advice. That’s when some friends told me about the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA), which is part of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, as well as the Cash for Keys program.


Under the “Tenants” act, “bona-fide tenants” are granted the right to stay in the property for up to 90 days after the new owner (in our case, the bank) notifies them of the new ownership. In other words, if the bank or new private owner takes six months to notify the current tenants of the switch, those tenants have 90 days from that date to pack it up and ship out. There are different situations in which someone can be considered a “bona-fide” tenant, but after reading the different stipulations, we saw that we qualified under this classification.


Before the “Families” act was enacted, folks in our position would have come home to their possessions strewn about the lawn with the less-than-altruistic locals rifling through them as if it were a free garage sale without so much as a warning. However, with the growing economical filth that was the housing market, and the increased number of foreclosures, President Obama and Congress had to act…fast. With synergy, as well as debate, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 was born, providing people like my roommate and I the time and resources necessary to try and land on our feet, which is exactly what we did.


We opted to take advantage of the Cash for Keys program, which provided us with enough money to relocate. After determining that we had different leasing needs, we decided to get separate apartments. As the last two of a revolving door of college roommates, we said goodbye to the house that had enclosed numerous all-night study sessions, heated arguments over dirty dishes and messy bathrooms, regular late-night chats around a dining room table that leaned back harder than Fat Joe circa 2004, and countless runs to McDonald’s before the closing hour. Though my heart was heavy with sadness and flooded with nostalgia, I was comforted to know that my roommate, whom I have grown immensely close to over the past four years, and I had warm places to sleep that night, even if they were unfamiliar.


So here I sit in my first apartment, surrounded by boxes and clutter, and I am grateful. I’m grateful for my new home, with its central location, fancy kitchen, and roaring freight train right outside that is currently competing with Faith Evans’ “I Love You” video for my attention. I’m grateful to that Higher Power, whatever you may choose to call he/she/it, for getting me this far.


I’m also grateful to have a president who kept his eyes open to the plight of the people, and has worked tirelessly on their behalf, both before and since he had earned our nation’s top job. So to President Obama, and the Congress who passed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, I thank you. Thank you for your hard work, thank you for your diligence, and thank you for making our proverbial guest spot in this wannabe Michael Moore documentary as easy as possible. With that said, I think I’m going to knock off these last two wings and watch the original En Vogue kick up the seduction with their classic, “Don’t Let Go of Love.” Was it just me, or was Dawn like, every guys favorite?


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