In the tranquil Southern Oregon town of Gold Beach, J Lindsay, a wheelchair bound disabled senior citizen ponders his fate. His home of fifteen years is in the clutches of foreclosure and he cannot get any legal help.
And it is more than just his home. Through his small consulting firm, Alliance For The Disabled, he has provided an inexpensive room for rent to disabled and disenfranchised people for the past decade. In cash-and-resource poor Curry County, these folks would have otherwise been living in the surrounding forests. Mr. Lindsay also provides free assistance to those struggling to obtain legitimate social security disability benefits. His Twitter handle is @freehelp4u.
The circumstances of his plight are irregular and smack of all things disreputable. The actions of an attorney representing another disabled individual (a signer on the title) have directly caused Mr. Lindsay to lose access to a loan forgiveness program, unjustifiably tearing away the last opportunity to save his home.
Yes, he was in trouble with his mortgage because his position as a voice over specialist with an educational non-profit was suddenly dissolved, but through great effort and follow through managed to gain approval into the Oregon Homeowner’s Stabilization Initiative .
The OHSI plan completely pays all arrears and fees to the mortgagor which allows Lindsay to start fresh. There would be no foreclosure. All that is necessary to satisfy the loan requirements is a five-year continuous occupancy of the property. As Mr. Lindsay planned to live the rest of his life in his home, this requirement would be easily met.
All that was left was the signing. By law, all parties listed on the title needed to sign the loan documents. It was a simple matter.
However, the opposing attorney refused to allow his client to sign, nullifying the loan. He followed this with an assertion that his client's 'life interests' could not be foreclosed on. What? Simply enough, the mortgage had not been paid for 10 months. He also stated that because of ‘contingent remainder’ the loan on the property made any foreclosure impossible. On its face, this was nonsense.
A simple signature with no financial obligation for his client was the deal. It was obvious the best interests here would be signing the documents, saving the home from foreclosure. Instead, the attorney made controversial statements to the loan manager and did not allow the signature resulting in foreclosure proceedings. Further actions have now lead Lindsay to believe he is being pushed out of his home through underhanded legal maneuvers.
Twenty years ago, Lindsay was disabled through an industrial accident, severely damaging his peripheral nervous system, leaving him with a chronic pain condition and compromised mobility. His income is limited because of a small, monthly disability benefit, combined with restricted hours he can work because of his medical condition. Yet he has worked hard and ‘kept the roof on’ for fifteen years, but in no way can afford the services of an attorney. Strike one.
He certainly qualifies for Legal Aid of Oregon services, or so one might think. However, Lindsay was turned away twice because of a ‘conflict of interest.’ Apparently, because they are providing legal counsel for one disabled person, Legal Aid cannot justify providing (and paying) for another qualified disabled person’s representation who happens to be on the opposite side of an issue. The first one to apply is the one who is helped. Strike two.
Another option is the Modest Means program offered by the Oregon State Bar. At a reduced rate, attorneys agree to work for the benefit of their client in many different arenas. Unfortunately for Lindsay, there are no participating attorneys in Curry County. Strike three.
With nothing left to do, he waits, disillusioned and depressed as the Portland foreclosure attorneys prepare their case. “I have nowhere to go,” he says wistfully, “I never thought the end of my life would amount to this.” Further concerns involve the inevitable displacement of his tenant, also disabled with limited resources. According to Curry County housing officials, the wait for assisted housing is more than one year. Mr. Lindsay and his tenant are running out of time and running out of hope.