7 On Your Side
Post-Sandy insurance and mortgage trouble
LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (WABC) -- For many homeowners already fighting to stay in their homes after the recession and mortgage crisis, Superstorm Sandy was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
"That's all I have, all I have left, I'm 73, he's 83, he's sick, and this is home to us and I don't want to lose it," said Lorraine Ortiz, homeowner.
Lorraine and Frederic Ortiz's Little Ferry house has been flooded 5 times since they bought it in 2005.
The couple says they have spent some $200,000 repairing the flood damage.
This time, the mold and the cold has kept them out of their home since Superstorm Sandy, because the couple has nothing left to pay for yet another renovation.
"I've tried to come back and I got pneumonia," Lorraine Ortiz said.
This was what the downstairs looked like after repairs were finally completed from Hurricane Irene, four months later the Hackensack River was back.
Eyewitness News first met the Ortiz's daughter, Joy, at the shelter where displaced residents were taken after being rescued by boat.
The Ortiz's have refinanced their modest house three times, their original loan was through Countrywide, now Bank of America, which recently settled a federal lawsuit accusing the lender of widespread mortgage fraud which led to the housing crisis.
"They can't afford it anymore because they're paying half a million dollar mortgage on a house that's only worth $145,000," Joy Ortiz said.
Both sides of the Ortiz family have proudly served in every war since WW1, the couple worked hard to afford the home they wanted to leave their kids.
But deep in debt, they made two mistakes before Sandy hit. They let their flood insurance expire, and stopped paying their mortgage.
"Its money and money and money and I can't afford it anymore so now I got this company that was investigating, maybe a year and then we go the attorney now in litigation," Lorraine Ortiz said.
After receiving a solicitation letter aimed at mortgage defaulters, the Ortiz's say they made another mistake, paying a loan investigation company $5,000 for a report to see if their lender committed any mortgage fraud and then paying a lawyer an additional $7,000 to help them prove it.
"Did they do anything for you?" Nina Pineda asked.
"I don't think so, no," Joy Ortiz said.
"I have no idea what I'm going to do, I'm praying," Lorraine Ortiz said.
7 On Your Side found out the Ortiz's may have some help going forward.
When they stop paying their flood insurance, the bank took out insurance that could give them some coverage to rebuild.
Also, after 7 On Your Side met with the lawyer he told Eyewitness News he will work for the Ortiz's pro-bono.
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