February 20, 2017

Last week, two Baltimore homeowners who have spoken out against Oaktree Capital’s mortgage practices received notices of eviction.

Paula Smith

Paula and her children are scheduled to be evicted from their home on March 27th.

My name is Paula Smith. I live here in Baltimore and work for the Baltimore school system. In 2008 I bought my house so I would have a place to raise my family. I had a good job in and I was looking forward putting down roots and having a place of my own.

In 2009, I was informed that my previous bank had gone bankrupt and that the mortgage was transferred to Bank of America. But when I tried to pay Bank of America, I was told that they didn’t own my loan. The bank had apparently never heard of me or my house.

For months I tried to work things out with the bank and got little response—until they told me I was in default because I was 90 days overdue. It didn’t matter that they had refused to accept payments from me; as far as they were concerned, I was more than 90 days overdue and that was that.

By the time Oaktree purchased my loan, I had undergone a years-long ordeal of trying to get my mortgage back on track:

  • First I was told I had to get a modification because I was in too much debt.
  • Then I was told I had to declare bankruptcy in order to receive a modification.
  • Then they told me I needed to get my ex-husband’s name off of the title because we had separated.
  • Then I was told my mortgage servicing company had changed to Selene Finance, the company Oaktree used to service my loan after they bought it.

Selene, on behalf of Oaktree, asked me to go through a trial period but refused to tell me how much my debt would be if they accepted my request for a modification. I made 5 trial payments on time. When I was late on my sixth, Selene Finance told me it would be better for me to re-start the entire 6-month trial period than to simply make a late payment. So, I waited.

But that’s not what happened. Selene decided to force me out of my house. I was foreclosed on and I believe Oaktree has taken possession of my home. My family and I don’t know where to go. We are in limbo.

This whole process has been so exhausting. It makes my head spin to think that I work for the Baltimore School system and that the Maryland State Retirement System invests with the company that is forcing my family out of our home.