7 On Your Side: Sandy victims brought back from brink of foreclosure

and Steve J. Livingstone
Thursday, March 08, 2018 06:10PM
Nina Pineda reports on a New Jersey family's fight to keep their Superstorm Sandy-damaged home.


BRICK, New Jersey - A Superstorm Sandy-soaked family has been dealing with a lot in the five-plus years since the devastating storm. But now, after building back twice and fighting FEMA, they're getting the ultimate gut punch from their mortgage company. It has put them on the brink of losing the home they've fought so hard to keep.

Peter and Anita Olivo's youngest son, Luke, was just a toddler when Sandy's surge swallowed their house in Brick, New Jersey.

"Five years of his life, he's been going through this," Anita said. "We've lived in numerous different places, and it's been roughest on him."

"He doesn't have a sense of home," Peter said. "We've been in so many different places in the last five years."

The family of five survived the storm, a confounding contractor, and even a FEMA claw-back. They scraped every cent to hold onto their home.

"I had left my job to use my 401(k)," Peter said. "I have every dollar invested into this house."

A year ago, the couple caught a break, qualifying for the New Jersey Forbearance Program designed to allow Sandy homeowners to delay crushing mortgage payments for a year or more.

"Thank God we could finally get relief from paying rent and our mortgage," Anita said. "And actually try and use any extra money that we could towards repairing our house."

She sent the forbearance certificate to their mortgage company - SLS.

"This was emailed in April, in May, in June, in July," she said. "Because every time I would speak to them, they would say, 'Oh, we didn't receive it, we didn't receive it.'"

Then, they got served with a notice of foreclosure. The sheriff was putting their property up for sale.

"It makes me physically ill," Anita said. "It's not just losing your home. It's losing everything we worked for in the last five years."

Even during our interview, the Olivios were pleading with their mortgage company for answers over the phone. Yet SLS wouldn't acknowledge their right to suspend payments.

"We have nothing left to rebuild if we lose this house, our credit's been affected," Anita said. "Financially, emotionally, I don't know how much more we have in us."

So we got in touch with the Colorado based mortgage lender.

"Relief," Peter said. "Relief."

"We're overjoyed," Anita said. "Just so glad that they're finally acknowledging it."

Within three days, Peter and Anita got a letter from the CFO of SLS, apologizing, along with $500 in gift cards for a getaway to a Marriott.

"Without you guys, our house would be in foreclosure," Anita said. "They have scheduled a sheriff's sale. Without 7 On Your Side, we would not be standing here right now."

They can finally finish the house, and they got even more good news. Liberty Door and Awning donated garage doors to the family.

"Thank you guys so much," Peter said.

"I was ready to give to give up," Anita said.

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