18 May Thanks to MCJ, Mr. Taylor Kept His House
Dennis Taylor, 58, came into the Mississippi Center for Justice office looking for help preventing the foreclosure of his Jackson, MS, home of 14 years. During his client interview, Mr. Taylor explained that he had been unemployed for three years after getting hurt at work and was 37 months behind on his mortgage. Making matters worse, he had applied for social security and disability benefits but had been denied.
Mr. Taylor was out of options, and he was facing the unthinkable: losing his house. He wasn’t alone. Home foreclosures have been wreaking havoc on Mississippi’s African American communities since the mortgage crisis of 2008. As of April 2020, Mississippi has the fifth highest mortgage delinquency rate in the nation. A 2012 study showed that African Americans in Mississippi were twice as likely as white people to lose their homes to foreclosure. Foreclosures also make it much harder for Black families to build wealth and transfer that wealth to their children. A house is the largest single asset most families possess, so losing that home – especially if they’ve already spent years making mortgage payments – is a major financial blow that widens the racial wealth gap between white and Black families. Nationally, African American households earn about sixty-one cents for every dollar earned by a white household; in Mississippi, that number is closer to fifty-five cents. These numbers are from before the pandemic, which has no doubt widened the gap.
MCJ was founded with a deep commitment to racial and economic justice, and we’re fighting to keep Black people in their homes and to keep Black communities intact. Our Consumer Protection team continues to notch wins. Thankfully, Mr. Taylor is one of them.
Eventually Mr. Taylor was able to receive disability pay – his sole source of income – but it would not be retroactive to 2015. He had hoped he would be able to pay back the mortgage payments he had missed since he was injured, but now that was seeming impossible.
Exhausted from borrowing from family members and friends and unable to find any type of work he could perform in his disabled physical state, Mr. Taylor was ready to give up on keeping his home. He came into our office seeking guidance and assistance with filing a modification. Because of our expertise, we were able to help Mr. Taylor satisfy the modification’s required debt-to-income ratio. We showed him that by reducing some of his monthly expenses that were not necessities and increasing his income slightly, he would be approved for a modification of his mortgage payment into a reasonable amount based on his individual situation.
With only a few weeks before the foreclosure sale of his home, Mr. Taylor was able to get a job delivering small packages for a delivery service. We immediately updated Mr. Taylor’s modification application; we were persistent and determined to keep Mr. Taylor in his home. Through our efforts, along with Mr. Taylor’s strong faith and hard work, he is again a proud and stable homeowner.
Funding from the Mississippi Bar Foundation and Bank of America is what made this success story possible.