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