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By Tiombe Jama
East Palo Alto Today
Posted on March 9, 2011

  Picture of Tiombe Jama  Photo courtesy of  the Talking with  Henrietta television show

The photo of Tiombe Jama above shows her as a participant on the Talking with Henrietta show, Strengthening the Bonds between Fathers and Their Children, which aired on August 29, 2010. To see an excerpt from the show click here.

Black and brown communities have always been targets of predatory lenders – speculatory investors.  “When the white communities become exorbitant, let’s just take over the black and brown houses and businesses.”  Remember when the Fillmore was a thriving black community.  It is estimated that by 2012 African American neighborhoods could be drained of nearly $200 billion in housing losses alone.  With all the promises of a business hub in East Palo Alto for the black and brown businesses, only 10% of these businesses exist  today.  Where is the business hub that was promised in the Ravenswood Shopping Center?

You know what, I matter and people like me matter.
We are treated as if we don’t matter.  The developers, the politicians, the agencies, the health care providers, businesses and banks treat us as if we don’t matter. They have money, they have power, but so do we.  We are going to use our power to stay in our homes, to secure living wage jobs, to secure safe communities, effective schools, etc.

Everybody knows about Michael Vic’s mistreatment of dogs?  Who knows about Edith Rodriguez?  Who knows about Esmin Green?  These are two women, one black and one brown who died on the emergency room floor.  They died because they did not matter.  Had they been dogs, the people who neglected them would have received jail time.  Miseducated “professionals” of color treat black and brown people with disdain because they are taught that black and brown people “don’t matter.”  That’s what I was taught by white professors. So, the staff at these hospitals let these women lie on the floor and die.  Where is the  national outrage?  Where is the media and the protesters who are currently highlighting the mistreatment of the people in Egypt?

My lender set up a loan to take my house.  I am not leaving my home.  He can get another investment, I as a senior citizen can not.  He has received at least 6% interest and he will receive the total principal through my reverse mortgage. Because he can access my equity –I can’t – he wants to take my home.  My lawyer wants more money and due to my loss of income, he can sell my house. The first time he tried to take my home, three years ago, he filed for $824 – which was not owed.  He took me all the way to three days before sale before he had to rescind – due to my filing a lawsuit against him.  My neighbor went to court for me and the lender was forced to rescind.

When I secured this mortgage I was in my last year of graduate school  to secure higher income.   After a year, I realized that my loan amount was going up, even though I was paying.  I called the lender, and never got a straight answer.  I went to my local pro bono attorney, and never got an answer.  In the meantime the depression hit, and No Child Left Behind said I was not qualified for a teaching position.  I then asked my lender for assistance, and that was when the nightmare began.  He manipulated a forbearance agreement and filed a false notice of default and moved to a sales date.  I had to file legal documents on my own to stop the sale.

Fast forward to today: I have an amount to pay off the principal and some interest.  I have an interest only loan.  But my lender refuses – by adding fee upon fee and interest upon interest to my already high interest rates of 10.99% for the first mortgage and 14.99% to the second mortgage.  – He set up the loan with a first and second at the same time, even though I requested not to have a second.  

I am a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Home Defenders League which helps homeowners speak to the lenders to secure modifications to stay in their homes.  We will not stop until the cities, the lenders, the agencies help us keep our homes.   We are petitioning the cities, counties, state and federal entities to help us.  CALFHA   (California Finance Housing Agency ) received $2 billion to assist homeowners in foreclosure.  Black and brown representatives were not in the room when the policies, procedures, and qualifications were created.  As a result – we will not be able to access these funds to keep our homes.  We are organizing to change that.                              

When I got this home, I knew the only way I was leaving was when the hearse pulled up to my home and took my dead body to the mortuary.  I am not leaving my home.   I received $7,500 in cash from my second loan.  That loan is now up to $50,000 (excluding approx. $3,000 for taxes and insurance which is unclear because he comingled impound funds). He has added $40,000.  Tell my lender to accept his principal and release me from this predatory loan. Please email me and I’ll give you his name and his phone number. My email address is: tiombay@hotmail.com

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