Getting Hope: A Veteran’s Story


Helene Rodriguez, left, and other Housing staff

When first referred Stephen* to Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic’s Foreclosure Prevention Program, he was already over $21,000 behind on his mortgage. The situation seemed hopeless, but Stephen was not ready to give up. A veteran of the United States military, Stephen suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Per his doctor’s instructions, he was not able to maintain employment. After his diagnosis, he applied for short-term disability, but this soon ran out. Once this happened, Stephen was unable to continue making his mortgage payments and the situation quickly spiraled out of control.

After completing the initial steps of the Clinic’s intake process, Stephen was assigned to Housing Counselor Helene Rodriguez, who was determined to help him. “It just made me realize that sometimes it’s not [a client’s] fault that they fall behind on their mortgage,” she says. “It’s their medical condition, or traumatic events.” Although Stephen was divorced from his wife in 2015, he continued to live with her and his two children, ages 17 and 20, because he was unable to work. He was particularly anxious to take care of his mortgage troubles for his family’s sake. The mortgage was only in his name, but if he didn’t get any assistance, they would all lose their home.

For Helene, Stephen was a model client. “He was very proactive when I asked for paperwork,” she says. “He was on it—he was really trying to get help.” However, even though Helene and Stephen were both working diligently, the process was slow. The lender took over two months to respond, rather than the standard 30 days. The delay was partly due to the fact that the lender offered Stephen a modification, even though he had no income and such a modification was therefore untenable. Eventually, however, Helene and Stephen saw real progress for their efforts.

Several months into the process of applying for Hardest Hit Funds (HHF), Helene was able to give Stephen the good news that he had been approved for assistance. Now, HHF will continue to cover his mortgage for the next 12 months so that he will not have to worry about falling behind or losing his family’s home.

In the meantime, in addition to helping with his mortgage, Helene also referred Stephen to the Legal Clinic’s Building Wealth program. This program helps struggling homeowners learn various financial principles having to do with budgeting and fiscal matters. Such educational programs are meant to help clients get back on their feet again, and stay there.

To learn more about the Legal Clinic’s Foreclosure Prevention Program, please contact us.

*Client’s name has been changed