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Sumner cafe owners could lose their home

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on April 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm with 33 Comments »
April 28, 2010 1:42 pm
Ben and Trish Rubke with their children, from left: Asher, 4; Atticus, 10 months; Adeline, 2; Aaralyn, 5.

UPDATE: Ben Rubke just told me that the auction date on his famly’s home has been  postponed from April 30 (Friday) to June 4. More details to come.

Beyond the Bridge Cafe in Sumner is a gathering place for artists and lovers of good coffee alike.

Local painters display their work on the walls. Musicians perform weekly. Baristas make latte art — leaves and other designs with foam — in every cup, every time.

But the couple that owns the shop, Ben and Trish Rubke, are struggling to keep their family home in Puyallup, which is up for auction Friday June 4. If they lose their home, they may have to sell the cafe, Ben Rubke said this week.

The Rubkes, who have four young children, said Bank of America told them a year ago that they were being enrolled in the federal mortgage modification program, which would allow them to stave off foreclosure. Apparently that never was the case, they recently found out, and now they’re on the verge of losing their home.

Hundreds of people e-mailed The News Tribune over the weekend to tell us about Trish and Ben’s plight. I’m looking into it and have contacted Bank of America to get their side of the story; look for more later this week.

Click “More” to see the e-mail that’s been circulating for the past few days. There is a fund for the Rubke Family set up at all branches of Columbia Bank for anyone who is interested in helping.

E-mail from the Rubkes:

We are the Rubke family and our journey to keep our home began over a year ago. We have until April 30th to resolve our situation and have been trying to receive assistance since March 2009.

Our family lives in the Puyallup Valley, a valley with rich soil and natural beauty. In the shadow of an ice capped mountain, our 5 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, and 10 month old children run, play, and learn to work the land. Our home is a small farm house built in 1931. We are the second residents to inhabit this home and after watching the children chase the days into nights on their favorite hammock, we know why the last owner stayed until she was 93 years old. We want to stay too.

We work countless hours owning a small café in Sumner, WA called Beyond the Bridge Café. Our business employs 4 people. We are 28 years old and have 4 children. Our story is being lived out by many American families that have nowhere to turn. Our family is hopeful that our actions of self preservation will serve to assist and raise awareness about a situation that is out of control. This email is going to the people who can help us: The Attorney General’s office, The Governor’s office, Bank of America departments, news stations, newspapers, and to countless others that would like to help fight for a cause that seems too big for the average American to deal with alone.

Today we are feeling a little crazy and hopeless. We have been trying to get a home loan modification since March of 2009 and are still in the same place we were a year ago. The only change in our situation is our house will be put up for auction on April 30th.

At the start of this process, we were informed by Bank of America that we would not receive any assistance unless our home loan became delinquent. A loss of income made delinquency unavoidable. When we got behind, Bank of America told us we qualified for the federally funded home loan modification program and the review process would take about a month. After calling every week and being placed on hold upward of an hour at times, we learned the modification process was more lip service than action.We were told our information had been lost, or our loan was the responsibility of an unreachable department, or that we were never in the process of modification and we would have to start the whole procedure over.The result of this 6 month roundabout was foreclosure.

In December, shortly before we were put into foreclosure, our family was able to raise enough funds to wash our delinquency.Upon calling to pay off our back payments, Bank of America advised we not send in ANY money. They instructed us to keep our “nest egg” because our modification was almost complete and any payment would nullify the progress we had made over the last 6 months. After following this advice, our home was moved into foreclosure.

The foreclosure fees have climbed at an alarming rate and $18,000 later we are still calling 2-3 times a week to seek assistance. The only information we can get after a year’s worth of work just depends on the day. One employee will say we were never in a modification program and another will say our modification is almost finalized and in the mail. Even after trying to run all correspondence (faxes and phone calls) through our local Bank of America branch, no one can tell us where our home loan is in the system.

We have been hung up on, transferred, and forgotten about. Bank of America continues to lose sensitive information that has been repeatedly entered into the same system. What government program is being utilized? Who is actually working on our home loan case? Where are millions of our tax dollars going in this bailout if they are not reaching the intended homeowners? These are all questions that no one can seem to answer. After not missing a house payment for 6 years, our family of 6 deserves an answer before we lose our home.

We have paid over $60,000 in taxes to the state in the last few years as business owners and home owners. If this is the program our money is going to, we would like it back.We want to stay in our home.We don’t want our tax dollars being used to buy back our own home and resold by a bank that is taking advantage of a lack of oversight. A system of anonymity keeps everyone involved from being held accountable.

Our family qualifies for this program and our mortgage is not upside down. We have documented pages of phone calls and logged 80 hours of work in an attempt to resolve the delinquency that has jeopardized our entire family’s homestead. Our business has shown growth and within a year we will be back on track as sustainable homeowners. We are exactly who these federal programs were designed for, but Bank of America has gone out of their way to make sure our family does not receive help.

Please look into this and HELP our family to keep our home.Please help us fix this broken system with dialogue and implementation of accountability.

Thank You for your support,

The Rubke Family

4923 Freeman Rd. E

Puyallup, WA 98371


Leave a comment Comments → 33
  1. The foreclosure nightmare continues. It hurts a lot of people when small business owners have trouble. That’s why local government should nurture them. It would be wonderful if small businesses were lining the center of Puyallup on Meridian to supply the locals with this part and that shirt and perhaps some art supplies.

  2. CityOfFlags says:

    A bikini coffee stand opened about a mile from them a year or so ago. On the reader board in front of their place Beyond the Bridge Cafe they put “We dont need no stinkin bikini baristas here”.

  3. tacomajoe says:

    The Rubkes letter is awfully coy about the terms of their mortgage and how they obtained it.

  4. nonstopjoe says:

    This is an amoeba-like story – no facts, no nothing.

  5. I hope things work out. I know the Rubke’s and they’re about as nice as people get. They’ve worked extremely hard on their cafe, which provides what I feel is a valuable community gathering place giving local artists and musicians a place to perform and hone their crafts. They have great coffee too. I hate to see them in this predicament with their home. They are very gracious and giving people. A friend of mine did some extended traveling and did not have a place to stay upon his return. The opened their home to him. Just to help a friend out. They have four kids and a business. They didn’t have to do that with all they had going on but they did. They are good friends to those lucky enough call them friends. They definitely don’t deserve this.

  6. BGLakeland says:

    Spoke to Trustee this morning, sale has been postponed until June 4. Hopefully they have time to work out and agreement with BOA.

  7. surveyor1 says:

    I would like to know why, when they had the money to come current with thier loan, they didn’t. If they had been jerked around by the bank as much as they claim, I would think that when the bank told them to hold onto their “nest egg” that they would have insisted the bank take the money and show them as current. I’m sure these are nice people, but there are a whole lot of nice people out there who have lot their their homes. I also find it funny (if as the post below states is true) that these nice folks want the community to support their small business, but at the same time advocate running the small business down the street out of town just because it doesn’t fit their “moral code”

  8. What difference does it make what the terms of their mortgage is? The point of the story is they are trying to resolve the issue and BOA is giving them the run around.

  9. This is really common right now. Banks are really jerking people around. I work in the foreclosure industry and can tell you that this isn’t uncommon. Banks routinely tell people that they won’t accept payment, lose paperwork, switch constantly between departments and generally give people the run around. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see some sort of class-action lawsuit arise out of the situation.

  10. Banks and homeowners BOTH need to live within their means so we don’t have to bail either of them out !!!

  11. parrot1965 says:

    That’s what I don’t get: if the Rubkes met the terms of the government program, why is BoA not managing their application properly? (Somebody, Get Jesse!!)

    Whatever caused the Rubkes to get into this predicament in the first place (possibly one of those “creative” loan programs that contributed to the financial fallout), they at least deserve to have the opportunity to get this fixed, if the federal mortgage program is legit. I sincerely hope they do- this would give a lot of encouragement and hope to those of us facing similar problems. One thing for sure is that uncaring, behemoth banks like BoA could see collapse from a major exodus of depositors and customers- out of fear that this could happen to them.

  12. parrot1965 says:

    JeffinBL, I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see a class action against JPMorgan Chase for what happened with WaMu- my husband lost his job, as did many thousands, in that debacle, and finding steady work now has been more than difficult. That would be a dangerous precedent, though, to sue in that circumstance – I don’t know if that’s ever been done.

  13. I had to close my BOA account after identity fraud & over $2,000 dollars was stolen from my bank account that BOA approved. They said they would help “clear up” the account, and gave me paperwork to fill out. After doing everything they told me to do I was informed I needed to PROVE it wasn’t me who made the online purchases from Nevada….I live in Puyallup. BOA I believe take every step possible to screw over their customers. I’ve since gone to Chase have been there for 5 + yrs & NEVER had any issues PS imp a bikini barista mom my daughter doesn’t in anyway shape or form sell herself she wears nothing you wouldn’t see her in @ the beach I SUPPORT BIKINI BARISTAS!!!!!

  14. nonstopjoe says:

    This is a typical News Tribune “fill in the blanks” story – plenty of fluff but few facts.

  15. Whatever1214 says:

    It would be nice to know more details.

    I do like the publicity and, hopefully, people will choose to support these folks by voluntarily patronizing their business or setting up a private fund raiser.

    However I am also sure that if someone does go into their business and agrees to pay “X” amount for a cup of coffee and then does not pay, they would feel wronged. If you buy it and you agree to pay for it, then do it.

  16. PumainTacoma says:

    Sorry but what is the point of this story? To claim we need more Obama like programs of bailing people out, programs that never work. Sorry but the truth is GOVERNMENT is not here to bail you out people. You are a fool to think the GOVERNMENT is going to bail you out or allow you cushions to sit on while you wait for a golden egg. The hard reality is save your money. SAVE SAVE SAVE. Forget the new techie gadgets, weekly mall struts, and save your money and live within your means. Those that wait for the GOVERNMENT will be surely disappointed.

  17. I am going through all the same tiresome run around in regards to my loan modification with BOA. It’s been 5 months and every time I have called it’s been the same thing, “it’s being reviewed”.

  18. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    It sounds to me like they want to pay their bills, but the government is offering a payoff program that every homeowner that is struggling is afforded. Not like they are trying to get the house without paying for it. That said, other red flags pop up. First, they keep popping kids out when they are struggling. Second, they got into a house that is beyond their means. If you are up to your neck in a business, you need to be hanging in a shack until the business can support a big house. It is very obvious that the bank is employing people that have no clue what they are doing or they figured they could get the house and the business if they pushed the family into foreclosure. I think the best option is for everyone in the county to send them 1 dollar instead of sending 2 dollars in taxes to the program that uses half to run the program. In exchange, the family can give 10% discounts to donors until the donation is payed back. Everyone wins but the government and the bank.

  19. surveyor1 says:

    I personally don’t think we should be supporting every hard luck case that comes along. The simple fact of the story is THEY chose to take a loan on a house that they could not afford. I didn’t buy my first house until I was 37. Why? Because thats when I knew that I could afford to make the payments. I am quite sure I could have gotten a bank to give me a loan at anytime before that, but I knew I would not be able to make my payments on the income and savings I had at the time. Where in the world is personal responsibility anymore? People think that they can just cry to the media and the public will give them a hand out.

  20. asanville says:

    Quit popping out kids! We have one child, live in a tiny two bedroom house, and we do just fine. Live within your means people.

  21. PumainTacoma says:

    No self responsibility. Always someone else’s fault. Who goes from a balloon loan of $150,000 one year to $206,000 with a year or two? Not responsible. No one is to blame here but those who needed to cash in on their house as if it is a bank.

  22. These are some of the nicest people I have met, and they have plenty of friends and family. They had raised enough funds privately to come current on their mortgage. The bank that holds their mortgage told them not to pay, and now the charges are out of control. This is being publicized because of BOA’s handling of the situation, not because the Rubke’s are looking for a handout. The Rubke’s were looking for some advice and a little mercy from BOA, and they receiced terrible customer service. Now it appears they have turned to thier community and their local newspaper for help they couldn’t get from BOA.

    I agree with the comments about living within your means. But it sounds like at some point they had the means to come current, and because of BOA’s lack of customer service and ridiculous fees – now the Rubke’s are unable to resolve the situation.

  23. cbwillis9 says:

    I have a mutual friend with these people and all I have heard for years is how incredibly irresponsible they are – and sadly even at other people’s expense. From what I understand this was a long time in the making. Alot of people including the TNT are getting suckered on this one.

  24. Ben and Trish are my friends. They have worked hard for everything they have. The both of them are not asking for a handout but some answers. All they have asked of Bank of America is to give them a yes or no regarding their loan modification. By no means are they saying that their situation is unique but rather that because it is happening to many many other families it should be fixed. By supporting this family and considering the injustice of your banking system you are rallying for a change that will benefit not just them but everyone.

  25. mdchristia says:

    How interesting that my post was deleted. Apparently the truth hurts.

  26. CommonSenseDuh says:

    The answer to the looming question of why they would not just get current on the loan once they were able to come up with the funds is all too obvious… The Rubkes, like many other entitlement-minded democrats in this country, got all excited about the possibility of someone else taking responsibility for their poor financial decisions. Why should someone like me and other responsible citizens be forced to “bail out” the Rubkes when we didn’t take out a risky loan (which they knew full and well the terms of when they signed the contract) on a home we couldn’t afford all while trying to get a failing business off the ground. Maybe they should call their establishment “Beyond Our Means Cafe”. I feel sorry for them mostly. They were most likely brain-washed by their ultra liberal parents or went to some local liberal hippie college. The only POSITIVE result from people like this is that they will teach their kids the same dysfunctional political ideology, and as a result my kids will have less competition in the marketplace… because their kids will be busy trying to figure out “why life isn’t fair”… When people like this say “the government”, they totally do not realize that the source of their desired hand-out doesn’t come from “the government”, but from “the people” (tax payers). You know, like me. I don’t buy what I can’t afford. And if I can’t pay for it, then I understand that it no longer belongs to me, but to the lender (Bank)…

  27. njersey1211 says:

    No Common Sense Duh:
    It is unfortunate that we live in a society where people like yourself can’t see past political ideology, which might I add has nothing to do with this. You are clearly miss informed like so many others in that both democrats and republicans alike have fallen victim to sheisty business practices on the part of lenders. Rather than reduce this to an ad hominem attack I encourage you to frequent one of the best coffee shops in the area. The Rubke’s are not looking for a hand out in fact they are like most Americans who believe in working hard for things. The likely hood is that you are like most Americans that receive a tax refund on April 15th. With that being said it is plausible to reason that you yourself have also reaped benefits at tax payers’ expense. I’m fairly certain that you use public roads, police protection, would call the fire department if your house was burning, that you have been educated in public schools and that you clearly exercise your right to freedom of speech granted to you by our military all at “Tax Payers” expense. In fact, even if you are one of the few who do pay taxes on April 15th I can assure you you will never pay more or even enough to break even with everything you enjoy at tax payers’ expense. In regards to you comment regarding capitalism I suppose us “Liberals” should have allowed Wall Street to fail based on free market principles. With regard to your kids the only thing you really need to be worried about is how ill-received they will be among their peers. Your views indicate a serious lack of character as the old saying goes “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones…”

  28. CommonSenseDuh says:

    Reality Check: Barney Frank and his liberal buddies in Congress lowered the bar so that lenders would not “discriminate” against lower income families… and then when it all did what anyone with common sense knew it would. Congress blamed the lenders. Do your homework. Maybe listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck or any one of the thousand others that don’t sugar coat things could help, that is if you are open-minded enough to actually take the time to hear the truth about American politics. And in the case of the Rubkes situation, political ideology has everything, EVERYTHING to do with it… C’mon man… The bank is screwing us? Please, anybody… help us? One of the quickest ways to spot a liberal is that there is always someone else to blame. I have no doubt they worked hard, long hours at their coffee shop, but there are no guarantees in life for effort mixed with poor financial planning. Heck, there are no guarantees, period. Some businesses succeed, some fail. That’s life. And think about this… “Sumner Cafe Owners Could Lose Their Home”… It’s not “their” home. It’s the BANK’S home. Maybe the story’s title should be.. “Lender Gives Loan To Couple Who Couldn’t Afford It and Is Now Forced To Take It Back” We are all in control of our own destiny in life. Our decisions and actions dictate the outcome. The questions that should be asked are… “What did we do wrong? What could we have done differently or wiser? What have we done or not done or not accomplished that put us in this harsh predicament?” And last but not least… Going forward from here… “What changes in our financial practices or lifestyle or business philosophy will we have to make so that this doesn’t happen again?” Pinpoint those things and you’ll get more for your money than blaming the lender, or the boss, or the Republicans, or your Dad, or the competition, or… (fill in the blank)… Personal responsibility means not being a sore loser when your actions have caused you to lose. Losing doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you didn’t get the results you were hoping for. Try a new strategy by learning from your mistakes. Custom-build a new plan that is smarter and more solid than the one that went south. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and smarter (hopefully). Life, its not fair, but it is great, especially in the greatest Country on this little green planet.

  29. The fees arent 18k, they are like 3k. Went onto Pierce Counties website and pulled up the publicly available notice of trustees sale:

    Back payments 10,569.30

    The fees they are being charged are:
    late charges 146.07
    Beneficiary advances 152.00
    trustees fee 337.50
    title report 1006.00
    statutory mailing 25.28
    recording fees 66.00
    publication 750.00
    posting 200.00
    Didn’t feel like adding them up, but you can see they are around 2600 or so

  30. njersey1211 says:

    There are two key flaws that indicate serious weaknesses in your reasoning. First, I will hold back from calling you out on your poor sentence syntax with the exception of saying it speaks volumes of your lack of education. The greater point in that is: if you can’t write a grammatically correct sentence (something that is taught in public school) the likelihood is you probably can’t reason well. This leads me to my next point. Not only is it tragic but it is outright ignorant to suggest that one man alone rallied Congress to “lower the bar” so that low income families could become homeowners. To suggest that Barney Frank wields that much power is like saying Sarah Palin would make a good president. Strangely enough you have the gull to tell me to do my homework. It appears that you are the one who showed up on test day without having studied. Rather than explain how the real mortgage crisis occurred I won’t risk going over your head by giving factual information. It’s clear that you are the one who doesn’t understand American Politics.

    In addition to your poor reasoning, you refer to moronic, bigoted, talking heads as the “source” of your information. What’s worse is that you take it a step further and insinuate that such “sources” are open-minded. I would never in a million years bother to waste my time listening to the likes of Rush Limbaugh. If I wanted to waste my time listening to an addict I would drive down to the nearest rehab and hear that information for free. Plus, it would probably be genuine. With regard to Sean Hannity I suppose you are comfortable getting information from an individual who makes “inadvertent mistakes”. You know the kind that portray one thing to be factually true when in fact it isn’t. Don’t even get me started on Glenn Beck. Anyone “open-minded” person would never make the comments, “When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Sept. 9, 2005 or how about “The only [Katrina victims] we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Sept. 9, 2005. Your sources are in fact the biggest indicator of your poor reasoning on the Rubke situation.

    For the record, I got a good laugh out of your “practical advice” on how to handle a situation. Suffice it to say, the Rubke’s aren’t asking for a handout. You know kind of like the one Wall Street and it’s financial experts (a term I use loosely here) asked for when their businesses failed. After all wasn’t it you who said, “…there are no guarantees in life for effort mixed with poor financial planning. Heck, there are no guarantees, period. Some businesses succeed, some fail.” I suppose Republicans are immune to this type of situation.
    Let me guess, Barney Frank and his gang of liberals caused Wall Street to fail too, right?

    In closing, there is one thing we do agree on…this is the greatest Country on earth. It’s funny that you called it a little “green” planet when the likes of you deny that global warming exists.

  31. twocents02 says:

    I just like cbwillis9 know someone that is close to the Rubkes. I’ve heard more than one example of their financial irresponsibility over the past few years. There is much more to this story than most people will ever know. They are looking for a handout and getting it. Lot of folks are getting their goodwill taken advantage of here.

  32. Please read my detailed comments on the other article on this. These people sucked 66,000.00 out of their home, didn’t even cover the interest payments over the past 5 years, cannot afford this home, and are fraudulent in their open letter regarding their ability to pay, the taxes they have paid, and pretending their fees are SIX times what they really are. Any yes, Newjersey that was a giant run-on sentence AND I started a sentence with and. Love opnion boards-I even occasionally spell something wrong, use the wrong their (and choose not to correct it before hitting submit).

    Bottom line-foolish irresponsibility is the story here.

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