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Carson family symbolizes the face of California foreclosure

Cynthia E. Griffin | 11/28/2012, 5 p.m.

For 28 years Ronald and Valerie Jackson lived on Harlan Avenue in Carson. They raised their three children there, had started on the grandkids and had accumulated years of happy memories.

Valerie worked as a civilian employee for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and Ronald worked for the city of Los Angeles, before becoming a real estate investor.

Then the real estate market crashed, and "so did I," said Ronald of his 2008 economic slump.

With a first and second mortgage on the single story four-bedroom, two bath house, the couple eventually tried to apply for a loan modification from Indy Mac bank.

"They kept asking us for the same forms over and over again," Ronald said before they eventually denied the couple's request.

Desperate to keep their home, the Jacksons filed Chapter 13 three times over the course of two years, but a judge eventually allowed OneWest Bank, who acquired some of Indy Mac's assets to foreclose a little over a month ago.

And this was done without the bank even responding to the lawyer the Jacksons had hired to fight for them.

Now the couple is living with brother-in-law, Cedric Carter.

They also connected with Deutsche Bank, which purchased their foreclosed property.

"They said they would work with us," said Ronald, adding that instead of putting their names on new loan documents, they decided to get Carter to repurchase their home.

But again, Tuesday the couple received a confusing letter from the bank saying since they were related, if they paid off their first loan (which had gone into foreclosure) and did a number of other things, Carter could purchase the home.

According to Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) organizer Peter Kuhns, the Jacksons represent thousands of homeowners across the region.

They should be eligible for loan modifications because they have a stable income situation, but don't get them and never find out why.

The Jackson's story has played out around the state, and is also one of the reasons that California Attorney General Kamala Harris was able to push through legislation that created the Homeowners Bill of Rights. But this legislation does not go into effect until Jan. 1.

It is also the reason, ACCE has to continued to work behind the scenes, and has been successful in getting L.A. Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles to require banks to go to settlement conferences with homeowners.

Kuhns calls it a potential game-changer. But it, too, will not go into effect until the first of the year.

Like the Jackson's home, which sits empty in their old Carson neighborhood, Kuhns said a recent report by the Pew Foundation has declared that the foreclosure crisis has turned Southern California into a region of renters rather than homeowners.

It further talks about the wealth gap between Whites and minorities, which has increased mightily because many of the homeowners losing their houses have been Blacks, Latinos and other ethnic minorities.

But the Jacksons refuse to give up. Ronald said they will keep fighting to reclaim their memories.