SEATTLE — A Safeway grocery clerk says a bank promised to help her on past-due mortgage payments, but ultimately foreclosed on her home so a developer could tear it down. Seattle police ultimately arrested Dana Ventura as she joined housing activists in a last-ditch effort to save her home.
A backhoe made quick work of the one story dwelling on 36th Street South, turning the roof and walls into broken sticks and rubble.
Before it toppled down, Ventura explained how Chase Bank promised to work with her on back payments. In the end, she says they tricked her into foreclosure.
“When I tried to get help from Chase Bank, they said, ‘Well you need to miss three payments before we can help you.'”
A Chase Bank spokesperson is looking into the allegations but says they typically do not advise clients to miss payments.
KOMO 4 contacted realtors who dispute that. Jim Melgard with Vestus in Seattle says defaulting is sometimes the only way people like Ventura can get their loans restructured.
Housing activists showed up to rally at Ventura’s side. They say the Safeway clerk loves her home and has desperately tried to save it.
“She did exactly what they told her, and then they said, ‘You’re in default. We’re going to foreclose on you,'” said Zarna Joshi with the housing advocacy group SAFE, or Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction.
The developer who bought the home tore it down to make way for seven new residential units, comprised of five three-story buildings. And as the old home came down, Seattle police stood by to arrest Ventura for trespassing.
“I feel like I have to make a stand, because this is not just happening to me,” Ventura said. “This is not some isolated incident.”
As officers led her away, activists say unethical lending practices are destroying neighborhoods and forcing people like Ventura onto the streets.
“Everybody who I talk to say things like, ‘You’ll get over it.’ It’s like, I’ll get over it on my deathbed.”