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What’s $15 for Parking When You’re Trying to Save Your House

Sandra Irick is sweating out in the long line, and she’s not even close to the front of it. She drove downtown today from Temple Hills, Md., in Prince George’s County, a predominately African-American suburb that has one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates. She’s going to end up paying $15 for parking at a lot about a block away. Normally, that would be irritating, but not today.

"They could charge me $50 a day if they want to," she said. "I don’t care. I’m just trying to get out of this mess."

Irick, 55, is trying to save her home of 27 years. The interest-only loan that Washington Mutual, a major subprime lender, sold her will reset next month. Her brother’s loan reset a few months ago, and he had to pay $900 more a month. That would sink Irick. "I’m just trying to get ahead of this," she said.

Irick took out the loan three years ago after repeated phone calls from a broker, who told her the interest rate would be 1.9 percent. "Now I know that was a lie," she said. She tried to refinance out of it not long ago, and the new lender told her she had an interest only loan, and that she was stuck with it.

Irick thinks her mortgage might be an Option ARM, which means she chooses the amount of the payment each month. No, wait, she says; it’s an adjustable interest loan. Or a fixed-adjustable loan. She and two other women in line with her begin to laugh. No one understands these loans, they said.

So why did they take them out? Irick said brokers called all the time and repeatedly showed up at her door, loan papers in hand. "They talked so fast, and they made it seem like you were doing something wrong if you didn’t take out the loan," she said.

Her brother came down here Monday and got his loan restructured to an affordable monthly payment, so she decided to give it a try. Her husband is deceased and her children are grown. She’s on disability from her job as a computer specialist for the D.C. Department of Corrections. Her house is all she’s got right now, and she’d like to hang on to it, so the hours of waiting, and $15 for parking, seem a small price to pay.

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