The moment is seared, like a scene from a horror movie, in Luz Sauceda’s memory. She came home after picking up her teenage daughter from school in the autumn of 2011 to find a sign on the front door:
She had spent a year working with Bank of America and mortgage lender Countrywide, trying to renegotiate or modify her loan — and save her house. She believed the blizzard of paperwork, most of it too confusing for her to understand, was going to pay off, that she would keep her dream of home ownership alive.
“The bank said everything was good. It was going to be OK,” said Sauceda, a parenting educator with Stockton-based El Concilio (the Council for the Spanish Speaking). “I didn’t even know it was in foreclosure. I thought we would have 30 days, but the house already had new owners.”
The embarrassing sign on Sauceda’s front door arrived like an unwanted visitor. The family of six had 30 days to get out. “We had to move in with my brother-in-law,” Sauceda said. “The kids were crying. We had to leave things behind.”
At the end of her 30 days, Sauceda and members of her family returned one last time to clean up the old house. “The new owners were there, young guys who work in Alaska. They asked if we wanted to stay — rent it for $1,000 a month. They said we didn’t have to pay a deposit.” So the Saucedas moved back in. The children are happy and, outwardly, things look unchanged.
“We’re back on the road again (to buying a home),” Sauceda said. “but the household income is enough to live on, not enough to save. And I don’t know about our credit rating. I don’t have the courage to look.”
Lessons have been learned.
Sauceda went to counseling at St. Linus Catholic Church on B Street and discovered that she is not alone. She has developed a family budget and communication with her husband has improved. She also knows she will be better equipped the next time around. “I’m more mature, and I can handle stuff.”