Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the news: Facing foreclosure, woman commits suicide

The following was reported on the big city newspaper website the afternoon of July 23rd:

Facing foreclosure, Taunton woman commits suicide

By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff

TAUNTON -- The housing crunch has caused anguish and anxiety for millions of Americans. For Carlene Balderrama, a 53-year-old wife and mother, the pressure was apparently too much to bear.

Police say that Balderrama shot herself Tuesday afternoon 90 minutes before her foreclosed home on Duffy Drive was scheduled to be sold at auction. Chief Raymond O'Berg said that Balderrama faxed a letter to her mortgage company at 2:30 p.m., telling them that "by the time they foreclosed on the house today she'd be dead."

The mortgage company notified police, who found her body at 3:30 p.m. The auction had been scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Balderrama used her husband's high-powered rifle, O'Berg said.

She left a note for her family saying they should "take the [life] insurance money and pay for the house," O'Berg said.

The law my organization helped to pass back in November of last year makes the deceptive marketing of certain mortgage products and lack of clarity regarding terms and conditions illegal in our state. That means going forward all of these subprime mortgages won't be marketed in our state.

This law does nothing for the woman who killed herself with her husband's gun. It does nothing for the thousands of apartment-renters who are being kicked out by mortgage companies or other companies when the buildings are foreclosed - even though they had been paying their rents on time. This law does nothing for the neighborhoods that are struggling with abandoned houses that become hotbeds of crime, tagged with graffiti, stripped of the copper and other valuable items. There are other bills in the works in our state legislature that probably won't pass before the July 31st deadline (that is next Thursday).

Our federal government has bailed out large financial institutions but done nothing for the real victims of a deregulated mortgage market. Just like our president in the 1920's, Herbert Hoover, who didn't respond to the financial crisis. In his honor, shantytowns were called Hoovervilles.

Maybe we should start calling lines of homeless citizens "Bushlines". Perhaps homeless shelters should be renamed "Bushelters". If, heaven forbid, shantytowns start to appear maybe we should call them "Bushvilles".

Too bad they aren't available for Mrs. Carlene Balderrama. She gave up.


the dragonfly said...


chelle said...

That is so so sad.

In response to the troubles in the US, Canada is further restricting mortgages. It is a bit of a bummer for us as first time home buyers that the rules will be more strict, however I happily want those who may be lured into trouble to be protected!

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking indeed.

Nice to know that there are good people like you fighting to protect others... makes me heart you all the more.

Candy said...

This is such a terrifying time. What a sad, sad story. I feel like we are just two steps ahead of the whole system coming down on our heads every day. We're just barely making it. I wonder when someone is either going to help us, or we're just going to lose everything. Thanks for the post.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

So sad... as is the state of our country.

Kate said...

Yet another depressing tidbit about the state of the good ol' US of A.

However, it is unfortunate that situations like that lead someone to suicide. It's hard to imagine that someone would think there is no hope for recovery and that you would take your life over losing a home. I don't mean to jump to conclusions though since I don't know all her circumstances. Maybe there were other things, too that led her to it. Either way, it's a bad ending considering she has children.

Jenn in Holland said...

That is horror to consider and you are so right here (as always) that this fiasco should be addressed, and instead it is being ignored. I am incensed with the callousness and so fed up with the ignorance.

Leslie said...

This is such a sad story. And it's especially heartbreaking because this is a situation that has so many possible solutions, if only the right people cared.

What is funny to me is how strict mortgage loans are, yet other kinds of loans, like student loans are so flexible. Our budget has often been tight. I've been able to defer my student loans or put them in forbearance to get through tight spots. But a mortgage? All or nothing, on time or never.

Jan said...

This is so sad. It's sad too that our government let us get into this situation and continues to allow it.