Man faced with foreclosure bulldozes home

For people losing their houses to the mortgage crisis, desperate times have inspired desperate measures

By Gary Baumgarten
February 24, 2010 9:25PM (UTC)
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This undated photo released by Terry Hoskins, who allegedly bulldozed his own home after a bank began foreclosure proceedings, shows a bulldozer standing near Hoskins' home in Moscow, Ohio. (AP Photo/Terry Hoskins via WLWT) **NO SALES** (AP)

If there are any among us who still don't believe that this Great Recession is devastating, I offer you the story of Terry Hoskins of Moscow, Ohio.

Hoskins, who had been trying to work out a loan modification with his bank to save his house from foreclosure, has made good on his promise to bulldoze the house before the mortgage company could reclaim it.


Flying an airplane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas over similar frustrations isn't cool. But this action I like.

I can't begin to tell you the number of people I know or have met who are struggling to keep their homes. They are decent people who want to remain in the house and maintain it. All they need is a little relief from their banks.

But instead of helping their customers out, the banks are only too happy to evict them. Often, the house remains vacant and the bank has to pay for up-keep. The property erodes. And instead of taking in some money (albeit a reduced amount) for the house, they lose any flow of income.


And some family finds itself out on the street.

A family that probably shouldn't have qualified for the loan in the first place but that was granted it because of the bank's own predatory lending practices. Or a family whose head-of-household has simply been laid off and fallen on hard economic times.

I spoke the other day with a female friend -- a single mom -- whose ex-husband has hidden assets from her to avoid paying his fair share in child support and alimony. She works three -- count 'em, three -- jobs in an attempt to keep a house that is home to her and her four children -- all of them college-aged, all of them not getting any financial assistance from their father for their educations.   


She has tried to utilize the programs that are supposedly available to help her keep her home. But the system is far stronger than her. It has beaten her down.

Now, this is a tough woman who has successfully battled cancer. She's someone I admire because she has been doing all of the "right things" to provide for her family without outside assistance. She probably could have gone on welfare rather than work three jobs, but that's just not her nature.


And the improvements she's made on this house over the years -- it has an amazing garden and yard, the result of long hours of her tender loving care.

Of course, none of this matters to the bank. The answer is "no" to her request to refinance the house. It's a sure-fire bet that once they evict her -- as surely they will -- the value of that property will decrease.

I doubt that my friend will rent a bulldozer and knock the house down like Terry Hoskins did. But there are millions of Terry Hoskinses and people like my friend who have reached the end of their rope. They are our friends, our neighbors -- and sometimes us.


The nation should be in crisis mode over this. Real programs to help people -- laws to protect them -- are needed. The time for words is over. It's time for action.

The discontent runs much deeper than the superficial analysis of the Tea Party movement would suggest. But, as usual, those insulated within the Beltway are the last to know. And those who do know, on Wall Street, are too busy counting their bonuses to care.

Gary Baumgarten

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Mortgage Crisis