The offer seemed like a godsend at the time. Her elderly father, who lived in Buffalo, was dying, and her mother was also ill. At 62 years old, she could no longer handle the strain of caring for her parents and holding a full-time job.

After several months, Joanne began to realize that her judgment had been clouded by her emotional state. In accepting the retirement offer, she had made a disastrous move financially. Her income had been reduced to half of what she expected, and she could no longer keep up with her expenses. She was barely managing to pay the mortgage on her small home, and was falling further and further behind on a $12,000 home equity loan. Still, she convinced herself that she could make it work.

By September 2007, the bank that held the home equity line foreclosed on the house. With the auction a week away, Joanne finally realized she needed help. The local Council on Aging referred her to MetroWest Legal Services.

Joanne had called in the nick of time. MWLS moved quickly to stop the foreclosure. They helped her to collect the necessary documentation and file for bankruptcy, effectively putting the brakes on the auction and giving Joanne a respite so she could reorganize. 

Since her income was too low to stay in the house for the long term, the bankruptcy plan included a provision that Joanne would sell the house and move elsewhere. But things started looking up when she found part-time work and a roommate who helped offset some of the living expenses. Joanne worked out a budget with the help of a friendly neighbor. She felt she had finally gotten on top of her finances. MWLS returned with her to court and got the bankruptcy order amended to allow Joanne to stay in her home.

But the foreclosure crisis wasn't over yet. The monthly payments on Joanne’s main mortgage had ballooned from $1500 to over $2000 a month. MWLS stepped in again, this time to help her apply for a loan modification to reduce the payments to an affordable level. When the modification was improperly denied, MWLS filed a consumer protection complaint on Joanne's behalf and had the decision reversed.

Today Joanne is happily ensconced in her home of 27 years. Looking back, she says, “I can hardly believe this happened to me. MetroWest Legal Services was amazing. Talk about saving your life!”