Mardee Jerde’s things are stacked in a storage unit and a pod. Her neat ranch-style home on Clover Way in Rush City, Minn., sits vacant. She’s living with a kindhearted friend.
Jerde, 70, has been fighting foreclosure proceedings since 2008 and was the subject of a Whistleblower article in the Star Tribune in August 2011 after she paid JPMorgan Chase almost $50,000 — leaving her almost penniless.
Two days after acknowledging receipt of Jerde’s money order, the mortgage holder told her she didn’t qualify for a permanent loan modification that would allow her to stay in her home. After being contacted by the newspaper, a bank spokeswoman said she would “try to find a solution.”
But after holding out false hopes for a loan modification — and staying her in home — for nearly two additional years, Jerde’s time was up two weeks ago. The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office delivered a notice of eviction on June 17 and, two days later, Jerde was homeless.
Jerde said she’s still tending her flowers, including two magnolia trees she planted, at what she still considers her home.
“All my plants are blooming right now,” Jerde said last week. “I didn’t see my irises blooming. I put those plants there. I can’t just let them die.”
Her attorney, Bill Butler, said Jerde’s house currently belongs to the Federal National Mortgage Association, more commonly known as Fannie Mae, which essentially bought the debt from JPMorgan Chase for $10, just four months after Chase accepted Jerde’s money. Jerde still has the keys, until Wednesday, he said, when officials will change the locks.
Butler has filed a last-ditch effort to hold off the eviction, at least for a while. Chisago County District Judge Robert Rancourt said last Monday that he would issue a temporary restraining order against Fannie Mae if Jerde posted at least a $2,000 bond.
She’s done that, Butler said, but Fannie Mae has petitioned to move her second quiet-title lawsuit to federal court. A previous suit by Jerde was dismissed in federal court in August 2011.
A quiet-title lawsuit disputes the ownership of the debt, Butler said.
“My view is that all 62 million mortgages [held by Fannie Mae] are potentially flawed,” he said. “We just need to get through the door to litigate the case to lift the curtain on this issue.”
Jerde has said all along that she never would have given JPMorgan Chase a money order for $49,825 if she’d known she’d end up out of her house. That money, she said last week, would have covered modified mortgage payments until this month.
Butler puts it more bluntly. “JPMorgan Chase stole $49,000 from this woman and they lied about it,” he said. “They said they could do a modification and didn’t.”
Jerde has endured myriad health crises, including lupus, fibromyalgia and most recently breast cancer. She’s survived all of those and, she said, she’ll survive this.
“You’ve got to look for the blue sky,” she said.