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Washington Heights Family Fighting To Stay In Long-Time Home

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Foreclosure and eviction are among the most brutal things a family could face in the holiday season. But that is what could happen to a family from the South Side Washington Heights neighborhood, despite their best efforts to repurchase their long-time home and regain clear title to it.

The McClendon family has lived in the brick bungalow near 100th and Peoria Streets since 1966 and Arlene McClendon Richardson said the family wants to stay.


"This process has been traumatizing and stressful to my family, and we are part of this community. We're hard-working and would like to buy this property at the current real value while staying in the home," she said, crying as she spoke.

The last part is what is causing the problems, which began when her late mother took out a reverse mortgage on the home. Richardson said ever since her mother died in 2010, the family has attempted to purchase the bungalow from the Federal National Mortgage Association.

Richardson said Fannie Mae offered $5,000 in return for the keys to the house and promised to give the family first crack at repurchasing it when it is put on the market. While that may sound fair, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, which is working with Richardson, said Fannie Mae's price is often inflated. A neighbor said she was foreclosed on a $45,000 mortgage, told she could buy the house at $212,000, and said when it was sold for $46,000, her son was able to arrange sale back to her for $49,000.

Campaign Advocacy Director Shirley Henderson said a federal program exists in Illinois, known as the Sun Program, that would allow the McClendons to do exactly what they want to do – stay in the home as they purchase it at fair market value. Richardson said she advised Fannie Mae's Chicago attorneys, at the law firm of Johnson & Blumberg, of the program but was told she could not enter it.

WBBM has asked Johnson & Blumberg for comment.

The grace period ended Friday, and Richardson said she and her siblings await the dreaded knock on the door from sheriff's deputies serving an eviction notice. She said she is "trusting in the Lord" that she won't be evicted as winter reaches Chicago, and said she has no place else to go if she is.

"It's been very stressful to me," said Richardson, who said she recently survived a blood clot in her lung.

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