This story started out as a tragedy.
Another poor woman caught up in the bureaucracy of low-income housing assistance, unhelpful government agencies and an unexpected foreclosure. Add unpaid back taxes and Freddie Mac to the saga, and Constance Coleman, 52, faced being put out on the street.
But instead, it's a victory—of sorts. Coleman will not be evicted, but she will have to move from the house she’s been in for several years and a community she’s lived in for 28 years. More worrisome for her is where her grandson, whom she cares for, will go to school once they move.
So how did Coleman, who works two jobs, end up here? She paid her rent. She had a place to live. She didn't cause problems.
It started when Coleman signed a lease for 560 N. Pinecrest Road, a modest ranch house in Bolingbrook. As a Section 8 tenant, she and the Housing Authority of Joliet met with Joseph McCaffery, lawyer based in Aurora representing the owners of the house, to sign a year-long lease in December 2009.
What she didn't know then was that the mortgage hadn't been paid since July, and within a year, the house would be in foreclosure. Although Coleman got letters and notices at the house from the county, she never read any of them. Instead, she said she forwarded them to the same place she had been sending her rent checks--McCaffery's office.
It wasn't until July 2011 that Coleman got another notice--this time, taped to her door--that her house would be sold at auction by the Will County Sheriff's Office. It was a complete shock.
She called a hotline for tenants at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She said she was told she could stop paying her portion of the rent--$349 a month--and to wait until the new owners of the house contacted her after the auction.
She stopped paying. She waited. And during that time, she tried to let the Housing Authority of Joliet know what was going on and get her security deposit.