October 17, 2015, Immokalee, Florida
Marie Delva, 63, had her home foreclosed and is currently staying with neighbors. Many residents of the community have lost their homes or stand to lose them. Some have stopped paying their association fees after the swimming pool partially filled with green water and lawn maintenance was stopped being provided.
She is among the owners of at least 54 properties in the 89-home community who have struggled to afford living in a neighborhood built on the dream of providing affordable homes to low- and moderate-income working families. Some owners defaulted on their mortgage, and others cannot pay delinquent monthly homeowners association fees that increased while the community deteriorated.
For Delva, the problem began less than a year after she bought her three-bedroom home for $42,800 in September 2011. The Social Security checks stopped arriving, and she couldn’t afford the $153 monthly association fees. With $1,524 in delinquent dues, the association sued her.
- The home was sold for $11,000 to an investor at auction in September 2013, according to court records.
The day she was evicted, Delva said she didn’t move from the front yard. She had no place to go. A neighbor offered her a room where she sleeps on a mattress on the floor.
- She eventually received a $4,000 check in the mail, her share of the house she never thought she’d lose, for which she paid $42,800.
- The investor had sold it within two months for $56,500.
Similar stories have been reported nationwide for several years. Unscrupulous investors and association attorneys have enriched themselves under the foreclosure umbrella. In Arizona the special interests successfully lobbied against and defeated (a) The ‘Homestead Exemption’ bill denying homeowners living in associations a homestead exemption and (b) The ‘Fair Market Value’ bill that would have required the sale of a property to satisfy a judgment of an association to be sold for at least fair market value.
Sara Benson says: