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Springfield family fights against eviction

Date: 5/15/2012

May 14, 2012

By Katelyn Gendron

SPRINGFIELD — James and Catrice Tucker want one thing and one thing only: the right to stay in their home on Palo Alto Road.

The Tuckers, victims of a sub-prime mortgage scam, have joined with Springfield No One Leaves in order to block Deutsche Bank National Trust from evicting them from their home. The bank bought the property for $158,000 at a foreclosure auction in 2010; the Tuckers paid $280,000 for their home in 2005.

"Deutsche Bank is balking at the rental agreement, so now we're hoping to work with the non-profit, Boston Community Capital (BCC), to buy back the property for the same price the bank would get on the open market, between $160,000 and $170,000," Malcolm Chu, community organizer for Springfield No One Leaves, explained, adding that the Tuckers have until Aug. 1 to reach an agreement between BCC and the bank.

"We still have a rent offer with the bank. Rather than evict, they should accept rent otherwise there will be vacant houses all over Springfield and we've seen firsthand the devastation it causes," Chu said.

Catrice Tucker, who has been on medical leave from her job as a senior toll collector with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority since 2010 but will return to work next month, said the loss of her income was detrimental, even with her husband working fulltime as a firefighter with the Springfield Fire Department.

"It has put a lot of stress on us but I am willing to fight for my home," Catrice said, noting that she and her husband have tried to keep as much of their current financial situation from their three children. "I haven't told them. I don't want them to worry."

Catrice noted that not only were her and James victims of an adjustable rate mortgage but also of a scheme from a California-based firm in 2010.

"Because of lack of income because of the [health] situation with my wife, we had trouble keeping up with our inflated mortgage. Looking for help, we saw an ad about a group in California who said they could help us," James explained. "Rather than apply for bankruptcy, we went [to] this group who told us [to] transfer $3,000 electronically to them and they would help us do a modification with our bank/servicer at the time, Chase Bank. The company took the money and didn't do anything. We called to try and negotiate to get our money back, but they told us we should have known the house was foreclosed and 'good luck getting your money back.'"

Catrice said she is hopeful that even after all of their struggles that with the help of Springfield No One Leaves and the BCC that they'll eventually own their home again.

"Catrice and James are one of many of the 600 foreclosures over the past two years in Springfield and it's not showing a lot of signs of that slowing down. What's starting to happen in Springfield is that they're standing together and fighting back against the banks and now is the time that our city needs to prevent further destruction because what we're going to be left with is mass vacancies," Chu said.

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