If you haven't already read about them, let me introduce you to a very courageous couple. Hayward Hancock and Cindy Hooper live in Aiken and were kind enough to allow Chronicle reporter Tracey McManus and myself to document one of the most difficult times in their lives - the foreclosure and, ultimately, the loss of their home.
Hayward told me that he hoped the telling of their story might somehow help others who were going through the same thing. And there are many others going through the same thing. An estimated 4 million families have faced foreclosure in 2010.
Hayward and Cindy would be the first to tell you they've made some mistakes, but that is only part of the story. At a time when many people just walk away when they find themselves facing foreclosure, this couple wanted to do the right thing by fighting to keep their home and pay their debts. They called their mortgage company who insisted they payoff the entire note to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Next they hired a loan modification company, Apply 2 Save, with the promise that they'd negotiate with the mortgage company and help them get their payments back on track. Apply 2 Save declared bankruptcy and ultimately ripped them off of $14,000.
The two still weren't ready to give up.
They tried to raise money by selling many of their belongings at a 7 day-a-week garage sale. Hayward was also trying to raise money by moonlighting in the evenings delivering furniture in the back of his pick-up truck. That didn't last long. The truck was wrecked in an accident. It wasn't Hayward's fault and there were no serious injuries.
Finally, in early December, they found an eviction notice tacked to their front door. It said they had until December 16th to get out of their home. The couple still wouldn't give up. They consulted attorneys and actively sought any way possible to keep themselves in their home.
On the early morning of December 8th - a full 8 days before the date on the eviction notice - an Aiken County Sheriff's deputy arrived at their house with a crew of repo men there to haul away their double-wide mobile home. Hayward produced the eviction notice with the December 16th date. They soon realized that the deputy who posted the original eviction notice wrote down the wrong date. The deputy called the mortgage company and explained the situation. He asked that the family be allowed to stay until December 16th - the date on the eviction notice. The mortgage company flatly refused and insisted that the family be evicted immediately.
The couple had 4 hours to get all their belongings out of the home and into the front yard. In a frenzy, they began pulling anything they could out of the house. They worked furiously for several hours. Finally the chief repo man came forward to tell them that his men were having a difficult time preparing the mobile home for transport. The family would have until 9 am the next day to get out. In the end, the pair worked through the night - a full 24 straight hours - to get their belongings out of their home. The double-wide was hauled away and the family was left with a patch of bare earth where their home once stood.
View past stories by Tracey McManus:
September 18, 2010: Aiken County family fights to save home in foreclosure
December 8, 2010: Family loses fight against foreclosure
December 10, 2010: Public responds as Aiken family loses home