John Cádiz Klemack
The ongoing foreclosure standoff and 114-day encampment protest at a Van Nuys home may soon be ending. Neighbors say they can’t wait for the ordeal to be over, but the sheriff’s department has assured the family an eviction will not disrupt their Christmas. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Van Nuys for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2012.
A foreclosure at a Van Nuys home has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and for the family at the heart of the turmoil, eviction could happen right after Christmas.
"People have been verbally harassed, homes have been egged and anybody who's spoken on camera has definitely been harassed and lots of retaliation," said one neighbor.
That neighbor was afraid to go on camera, but willing to speak over the phone to NBC4 about a home on her street that has become a make-shift fortress (pictured below), draped in signs that read "Save Our Community; Stop Foreclosures."
"He explained he hasn't paid a mortgage in five years, I don't know why anyone would feel sorry for them," the neighbor said.
In 2007, Javier Hernandez brought a home on Leadwell Street, but when his adjustable rate went up, his payments stopped.
"That additional kick made it very difficult for this family to keep going," said attorney Phillip Koebel.
Standing before the family’s Christmas tree, Guadalupe Hernandez said her grandchildren don’t know the truth.
Still, this year’s holiday will not be like those past. A few gifts are under the tree, but most are tucked away in the trunk of the car, just in case the family is forced to leave, she said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the family is safe for now.
“We want them to have Christmas in their home, and the sheriff’s explicit direction,” said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the department. “He said this a time of giving, not taking.”
Neighbors, though, can’t seem to wait any longer.
"The individuals that have camped out there have been there for 114 days. Now if it was your neighbor and if you were there, what would you think?" Whitmore said.
Bank of America said it tried to work with Hernandez since he stopped making payments in 2007, but the bank said he didn’t submit the paperwork in time. Hernandez’s attorney showed NBC4 stacks of papers from just the last few months showing an effort to start payments again, but the bank said it wasn’t enough to qualify for a loan modification.
Hernandez said his only hope now is to fight the bank in court.
"We're doing this to bring awareness to this and hopefully bring an end to it," he said.
The Sheriff's Department says it could be at the home as soon as Wednesday to evict the family but in the meantime is trying to help them find alternative housing.