A family of five and their eight dogs have lost their home and are being forced to move into their Chevy Suburban, victims of what the family says is not just a bad economy, but predatory lending and even the failure of President Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program.
The predicament reached a head early Tuesday morning when the family was put out on the street in the rain and house door locks were changed.
Like others who struggle, the Corio family of Slatington says they've had difficulty paying their mortgage and other bills. Pat Corio, husband John, son Dean – an Iraqi war veteran – and Dean's two children, have lost the home they've shared since 2004, a raised ranch located on a hillside at 2362 Neffs Laurys Road.
At this point, they say, the family simply has no place to turn.
"I will live in my car because the state doesn't give a damn," said a tearful Pat Corio, 57, on Tuesday as she left the residence.
Medical expenses a factor
Corio is a lung cancer survivor battling effects of COPD. As a result, the family has had more than its share of medical bills, and did their best to pay the mortgage, they said. But their best attempts weren't enough.
"This is not fair. We wanted to pay, but we wanted something we could afford," explained Pat.
The Corios are a family who've spent their lives caring about others. They are animal rights' supporters and hoped to someday open a pet rescue facility. They already own and care for many rescued pets, including eight dogs. They also own five alpacas, a goat, and other assorted animals, some of which are being temporarily placed.
The Corios' trouble began when John lost his job as a shop foreman for The New York Times, where he earned $27 an hour managing a fleet of seven trucks.
He was able to find a job locally, but at only a fraction of his salary in the city.
"I took a job for less. We fell behind," he says. Medical bills mounted due to his wife's lung cancer complications, and lending institutions would not work with the family to modify their mortgage, the couple said.
Eventually, the mortgage was sold, not just once or twice, but over and over again, perhaps seven times, said Pat.
West Coast firm buys loan
The Corio home is now owned by ClearVue Management, Newport Beach, Calif.
ClearVue Management is a private real estate firm specializing in acquiring distressed and undervalued mortgage loans.
When contacted by the TIMES NEWS, Matt Regan, ClearVue investor relations associate, acknowledged that his firm holds the note for the property.
"We own the loan but we didn't do the servicing on it. We've only held the note for a short time," he said. Regan said he wasn't familiar with the personal side of the Corio story. In fact, he said the TIMES NEWS call was the first media inquiry the firm has received. He said properties acquired by his company typically are the result of years of non-payment of mortgage, default on taxes and resulting legal proceedings.
The Corios, however, say they tried to work within the system to save their house. They contacted an attorney, an audit professional, the Home Affordable Modification Program, and pursued other avenues to come up with a plan. But nothing worked, they said. The financial hole grew deeper and deeper.
The banks reportedly told the Corios that the family doesn't have enough income to be considered for loan modification. In other words, the Corios don't earn enough money to have their monthly mortgage payments reduced.
But Pat Corio believes there's a different reason. She says lenders and those who bought the mortgage have goals of their own.
"They didn't want that (to settle or come up with a plan), they wanted the property," she said.
Regan said ClearVue isn't in the business of putting people out of their houses.
However, the Corios were served with eviction, and on Monday were paid a visit by a Lehigh Valley deputy sheriff.
On Tuesday, there were a few contentious moments when a Century 21 real estate agent, who refused to identify himself to the media, arrived at the home and instructed an independent locksmith to change the locks, thus preventing the Corio family from re-entering the house. Similar to the real estate agent, the locksmith would not identify himself to the TIMES NEWS.
"The court system ordered the eviction," said the real estate agent. "You don't know the whole story," he added.
Courts will decide
The Corio family is represented by the legal defense firm Cheri Robinson & Associates, Ft. Washington. Robinson is an expert in the field of foreclosure and has been donating her time to the Corio family in order to see justice prevail.
Robinson said the court had denied a petition to let the family stay in the residence, after which Robinson put forth a motion for reconsideration. However, that newer motion hasn't been heard yet in the courts and in the meantime, the family was forced out on the street.
"We couldn't obtain a stay of ejection," said Robinson, who vows that the fight will continue. "We're still in litigation. We're not going to let it go."
Robinson also would like to see appellate courts address these situations differently, perhaps fast-tracking all appeals so that struggling families won't find themselves in a situation like the Corios.
The family's plight caught the attention of members of Occupy Allentown, Occupy Bethlehem and Occupy West Allentown, who sent members to stage a front lawn rally called 'Occupy Slatington Foreclosure' in support of the family.
Seeing the desperation of the situation, the sympathetic occupiers rolled up their sleeves and took up the cause, helping family members to hurriedly pack belongings and move boxes into rented trucks parked in the driveway, "in case they aren't allowed to get their stuff from inside the house," said occupier Daniel Hunter.
According to occupier Susan Buller, the sad scene is one being repeated elsewhere, as well.
"Many of us are facing things like this. It's important for us to support each other," said Buller.
With Christmas approaching, the Corio family is in crisis mode and hoping for a miracle. They want to keep the family together, including the dogs. Their Chevy Suburban cannot accommodate all of them.
In the meantime, a fund for the family is being set up by the law firm of Cheri Robinson & Associates, 426 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite, 203 Ft. Washington, Pa. 19034. Calls can be directed to (215) 540-9255.
Boarding offers for family pets or other assistance can be directed to Pat Corio at (610) 392-7936.