Community Post

CD resident of 43 years protesting foreclosure, bad lenders

Dixie Mitchell has lived in the Central District since 1967, but now she faces getting kicked out of her home due to foreclosure. She says the bank is only days away from taking it over, after a series of lenders have bought and sold the loan and the adjustable interest rate has risen up, pushing the monthly payment up to $2,568 a month, an amount that is unaffordable to a woman and her husband who only have their monthly social security checks to live on.

She and her family and friends are positioned around 23rd & Union today with signs, protesting what they see as predatory lending and asking for help from anyone who can offer it. “I’ve met with Gregoire and she said she’d help, but hasn’t. I’ve talked with KING 5 and channel 7. I’m just trying to do anything I can to save my house.”

Tears streamed down Mrs. Mitchell’s face as she told us the story. “I’ve done everything I’ve known to do. My husband is now in a nursing home due to a stroke, and the doctors say that it was the stress of this situation that caused it. They’ve bailed out the banks, bailed out Chrysler. They bailed out everyone but the poor and people who really need it.”

Taking to the streets was a last-ditch way to fight for a woman that is quickly running out of other options. “If they take the house tomorrow, then that means I’m out on the street. But at least I know I put up a fight.”

Any readers interested in helping the Mitchell family can contact Dixie directly at [email protected], or via phone at 206-330-3355.

0 thoughts on “CD resident of 43 years protesting foreclosure, bad lenders

  1. Can we get the name of her bank so I can contact them directly?

    Scott, can you please try to get this story spread to the other local news outlets?

    $2,568 – is this the minimum amount she needs right away to avoid foreclosure?

  2. It’s not clear how much would be required to make the loan current. It’s currently held by Litton Loans, and the $2,568 payment is hundreds of dollars higher than their $2,200/month income from social security

  3. I know others have had success in that area, and it makes the most sense to the bank, too. If the monthly payment is that close to her income, it doesn’t seem that farfetched to do this and give them some breathing room (and food room and utility room, etc.)

  4. Hey, I’d like my mortgage lowered too, but you know what, I only borrowed what I could afford.

    Can I get bailed out for being Responsible?

  5. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous blaming the bank in this instance. People need to take responsibility for bad decisions. If you are living on a fixed income and have an ARM you gambled that interest rates would not increase. In this case it appears the gamble did not pay off. Perhaps home ownership is not for you and you should be a renting.

  6. I totally agree – if you do not understand a document that you are signing…. then do not sign to buy the house, car, junk from China, etc. or you must pay up. People need to grow up and show up as an adult.

  7. Are you kidding ms? They only have their social security checks to live on? The have lived in the house for over 40 years. Obviously they were living it up on the equity in their house for fun and games and now they don’t want to pay it back.

    Wow! Did they think that living beyond their means would never catch up with them? That $150 mortgage they must have had in the sixties would have been paid off 14 years ago. Hope all the fun and games was worth it. The one good asset you had has been squandered.

    Do you really think that the people that lived within their means should pay for your selfish foolishness?

  8. I don’t know this couple’s circumstances, but they would not be the first to have been sweet-talked into a loan by an unscrupulous agent who did not make clear how the low initial payments would rise beyond their means. Who knows why they borrowed the money against their equity – to pay for big repairs? To help out their kids? Even if it wasn’t for commendable reasons, it shouldn’t have been so easy to do in the first place. I hope this couple gets a loan modification to where they can keep living in their house, and I think ARM loans to old people on Social Security should be illegal.

  9. “it shouldn’t have been so easy to do in the first place.”

    You’re right, credit should only be made available to people who have good credit ratings and who can demonstrate they can pay back loans. I remember being INTERVIEWED by a bank to get my first credit card. Interviewed!

  10. All we know from the article is that she has lived in the Central District since 1967. They may have bought this house much later, possibly in the middle of the housing bubble for all we know. We don’t know all the circumstances. It’s possible they were irresponsible. It’s possible they were victims of predatory lending.

  11. Loosing home ownership is not the same as being homeless.
    She traded the equity of her home for something she felt was more impotent. Foreclosure is a sad thing but she can rent, it works fine for me.

    Want to help someone, Rob sleeps in a doorway on 15the ave NE and has been homeless for seven years.
    Rob has no chemical dependency but does have a bad leg that is making it harder for him to get around.
    I met Rob through a friend who has been working to get Rob home to New Zealand for several years. The bottom line is that Rob is reluctant and afraid to change his way of life.
    He is not very motivated to be off the streets but he does need medial care, his new passport was ruined over the winter because Rob can’t carry his things around with him.

    Who wants to start a fund for Rob’s medical treatment?

  12. She probably got jacked like many others. The two day exclusive Seattle Times article about WAMU home loan officers looking to get people on ARMs and other high interest home loans proves all the false information being spread to potential buyers since it got the loan people a ton more cash. WAMU and other banks were not completely clear with buyers, and this lady could be one of those buyers as are some of my neighbors who bought in the past 10 years or so. The Central Area should develop a community land trust to help people stay – an example in Portland at .

  13. Loosing home ownership is not the same as being homeless.
    She traded the equity of her home for something she felt was more impotent. Foreclosure is a sad thing but she can rent, it works fine for me.

    Want to help someone, Rob sleeps in a doorway on 15the ave NE and has been homeless for seven years.
    Rob has no chemical dependency but does have a bad leg that is making it harder for him to get around.
    I met Rob through a friend who has been working to get Rob home to New Zealand for several years. The bottom line is that Rob is reluctant and afraid to change his way of life.
    He is not very motivated to be off the streets but he does need medial care, his new passport was ruined over the winter because Rob can’t carry his things around with him.

    Who wants to start a fund for Rob’s medical treatment?

  14. Excuse me – but no one is forced to buy a home in this county. Home ownership is not all that!

  15. please clarify…the situation isn’t clear. she has lived in the central district since 1967? same house? if u do the math, and she had a 30 year mortgage, it would have been paid off years ago!!! or did she purchase the house during the “bubble”??? or refinanced so many times, playing the “re-fi” game, like many the GAME IS OVER…
    living within ones means is a tough lesson to learn. not sure what the circumstances are, but we are all struggling in this crap economy, maybe we should all “take to the streets” with signs…you all voted the dems into the white house, they sure as heck pushed the healthcare thru, while the rest of the issues and the country is going to hell in a handbasket. while we’re all focusing on “HEALTHCARE REFORM” (if i hear that phrase ONE MORE TIME, i am going to SCREAM!!!!!), the price of gas has gone WAY up, over 3 for regular??? yeah, what else…yep…u all voted these dems into office because the previous administration was SO AWFUL…hmmm…let’s see what you all have to say when u get your NEW TAX BILL..where to you think the trillions are coming from to pay for all of these WONDERFUL programs?????
    why not contact the prez and his cronies….see what he will do for YOU>>>>

  16. Those who cannot wrap their heads around the idea of predatory lending should consider this federal lawsuit by the city of Baltimore against Wells Fargo in January 2008. In an affidavit reproduced in Harper’s Magazine in September 2009 (partial non-subscriber view here:, a former loan officer explains how the bank’s incentive structure required her to sign up as many people as possible for subprime mortgages, even if they qualified for prime loans. She describes how the bank and its subprime officers specifically targeted African American churches, lied to customers about the availability of FHA mortgages, falsified loan documents, including copy-and-pasting others’ credit reports and W-2s, in order to “qualify” them for mortgages. Her income–$700,000 gross in 2004–was based on fees and sales commissions. Ability to repay, therefore, was an obstacle to be overcome in the pursuit of short-term rewards. As she puts it, those in her office joked that they were “riding the stagecoach to Hell.” Moreover, her objections to the management of one of America’s largest banks were ignored.

    The circumstances in the above case are unclear, but the fetishizing of personal responsibility in abstraction from the facts of deliberate manipulation constitutes not “tough” realism but naiveté about the workings of the financial industry.

  17. Hey, I got offered a no doc ARM. You know what I said? No way.

    So where’s my bailout?

  18. >> did she purchase the house during the “bubble”?

    Her home address is not listed in the article, if so you could look it up as it’s public record.

    >>> Living within ones means is a tough lesson to learn.

    She likely was living within her means until a predatory lender showed up, let’s see elderly minority couple living on fixed income with lots of home equity. Perfect target.

    >> the price of gas has gone WAY up, over 3 for regular??

    I seem to recall the price for a gallon of gas being even higher during the end of the Bush years. Speaking of which I don’t recall voting to go to war with Iraq, where are all those WMD stockpiles that Hussein had? Where are the secret Iraqi nuke plants? Those sorts of things might contribute to the high price of gas or the fact that the fiscally responsible GOP wasn’t fiscally responsible at all.

  19. Yes, I’m sure she got caught up in a second predatory mortgage and know some of the circumstances, but not all the details. Yes, it would be great if all made great decisions. But, remember the banks and lenders were definitely backed by people that were highly paid to know what they were doing. If they deserve a bail out, those who got caught up in the scams that the banks were inventing cannot be expected to be more financially savvy. Even now there are some pretty strange loans out there.

  20. Jeez, what a bunch of judgmental jerks. Everyone’s so damn afraid that someone might be getting something they’re not getting.

    After all, a foreclosed home is such a better thing to have on your block – especially in your neighborhood, where it will doubtless become a magnet for homeless and/or troublemakers. But that would give you something else to complain about, so I guess that would make you happy.

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Some of you have been spending too much time around five year olds. Maybe it’s time to start acting like grown-ups and stop your silly keyboard sermonizing. There’s plenty of things to be legitimately angry about in this world, and this ain’t one of them.

  21. I did a little digging on this and here is what I was able to find:

    They bought their house prior to 1970.In 1994, the initial loan was paid off, In 1998, they borrowed well over 100K for something, their loan has traveled from bank to bank over the years and was finally “brought” to auction in 2008 but was pulled back maybe as an offering for a second chance.

    This house has had several city compliance issues over the years.

    Anyway, their issues are not from the bubble, they aren’t from buying what they couldn’t afford, it’s simply from someone taking the equity in their home and spending it and not being able to pay it back. Sorry, I just don’t see predatory lending here.

    On a side note, their house is for sale and has been for sale for well over a year for 550K

  22. The news story also said that she estimated she was past due$58,000. How us that possible? That would mean with a house pmt of $2500, they haven’t made a pmt in 2 years?

  23. I left Seattle 6.5 years ago and, while I’m very happy with our new home (we moved abroad), I still miss Seattle and love this great site because it does a great job of keeping me feeling connected. No longer living there, I’ve never felt moved to comment — I’m not sure it’s really -fair- to comment. But I can’t stop thinking about this post and the anger it’s apparently invoked. What on earth? I can’t wrap my mind around the vivid absence of basic human kindness displayed here. Okay, I get it, this woman may have (or may not!) have made decisions that many feel are irresponsible! But we don’t actually -know- what precipitated her current situation. And even if we did, would that justify the sermonizing, the self-righteous indignation? Man. I often pine for Seattle. Not so much right now.

  24. “In 1998, they borrowed well over 100K for something, “

    Something indeed and now they refuse to deal with the consequences of their decisions.

    But I agree with other folks, people like Dixie Mitchell should have no access to credit and we need new regulations to restrict the banks from lending to people who will not pay back their loans.

  25. One question: People on here are saying she was irresponsible. Maybe, Maybe Not. The banks were definately irresponsible, predatory, misleading, made billions of dollars off the backs of people, I can go on. Bottom line is they got a second chance. With that being said, so what if she may or may not have been irresponsible. Why can’t people get a second chance???? People these days are awful. Maybe a sudden earthquake will make you get your act together.

  26. Thank you for this comment….these people may as well be the pointy nose, out of touch representatives we got in congress arguing over why babies and women shouldn’t deserve health care like every other properous country in the world….nope not the U.S. We have too many people out of touch with reality here. Ridiculous.

  27. “too many people out of touch with reality here”

    Reality is taking $100k out of your house to have a good time (in 1998, long before the current bubble popped) and then thinking you don’t have to pay it back..

    “This house has had several city compliance issues over the years.”

    Well, the money wasn’t spent on the house.

    But I agree with everyone, though, the banks should be re-regulated and not allowed to loan to people like Dixie Mitchell EVER. Only loan money to people who have good credit ratings and can prove they can pay the loan back. No more high risk loans to people like Dixie Mitchell.

  28. While I was brought up not to borrow what I can’t return, there was a lot of predation on people to take $ out of their homes. Let’s not villainize this woman & her family because we don’t know why she borrowed $100K against her home. She may have had good reason, she may not. Based on the comments, I’m thinking that this discussion attracted a bunch of readers who aren’t our neighbors (at least that’s what I’m hoping!).

  29. “Mitchell admits bad decisions – gambling, adjustable-rate mortgages and taking out additional loans – have been made along the way.”


    She’ll only be homeless if her family doesn’t take their responsibility of caring for loved ones seriously.

  30. I lost my job about 9 months ago. I could use some help with my mortgage too. I wonder if this tactic will work for me? The articles say that they have been in the house for 34 years. For a regular 30 term note, this should have been paid off, but ‘gambling and other bad decisions’ have put them in a bind. Time to accept your mistakes and move in to apartment living there Dixie, I hope others will at least learn from you mistakes.

  31. So those of you who are so badass hiding behind your Internet shield: would you walk up and say those things to her face? She’s probably out there today. I’ll bet it’d make you feel so much better about yourselves to denigrate an older woman who’s having a rough time and who’s husband is in the hospital. maybe you could spit on her and kick her too. wouldn’t that be fun?

    would you step over her if she’s collapsed on the sidewalk? not your problem, right? she made some bad choices so she deserves to die in squallor, right?

    you fucking make me sick to my stomach.

  32. When you fall behind on payments, penalties add up. When the house moves into the foreclosure process, fees can make that amount skyrocket. The bank will not negotiate if you are current with your mortgage. Having gone through a short sale myself (when I moved here from San Diego), I know how challenging the process can be.

  33. You know there are choices in life and sometimes you make good choices and sometimes you make bad choices, either way you are responsible in accepting the consequences. I don’t think anyone here wants Mrs. Mitchell to die in squalor, I think that people are merely pointing out that she made some bad choices which helped guide her to her current circumstance.

  34. People aren’t pointing out anything. They’re making assumptions and passing judgements based on limited information about a person they don’t know and whose situation is complicated.

    Not wanting someone to die in squallor, or not caring if someone dies in squallor. Which is worse?

    Ya’ll better hope you never need the help of your fellow human beings.

  35. If ‘help from my human beings’ means expecting someone to bail me out and paying for my house for poor financial decisions I make, I am heading up to the casino right now to gamble away my mortgage and life savings! If ‘help from my human beings’ means finding a solution to this gal’s problems and moving her in to more affordable housing that is more in line with her budget, and educating all the other folks that expect a bail out on their poor decisions, then sign me up!

  36. Everybody has problems. I will never know what it is like to be in another person’s shoes but if a person has a problem with behaviors of drinking or gambling or overspending or whatever, they will have to learn thru EXPERIENCE. If they do not learn the lesson that they are supposed to learn… then they will not be able to move on. I hope this person can move on.

  37. Dixie Mitchell has figured out how to tap into public outrage at the mortgage lending practices of the 2000’s, but her actual history doesn’t garner much sympathy. She took out a gigantic second mortgage in 1998, well before the mortgage industry de-regulation that enabled the dishonest lending practices she claims to have experienced. She used the money irresponsibly, including gambling some of it away. She didn’t pay down the principal singificantly in the intervening 12 years. She didn’t lower the sale price on her house to a reasonable amount that would allow it to sell and cover her debt. And now she’s unhappy that she’s facing financial consequences and might have to move to a rental.

    Dixie’s sense of entitlement is gobsmacking. Lots of families who did everything right have still had to part with their beloved houses. There are many people more deserving of debt forgiveness than she is. If only they’d thought of creating a media spectacle first.

  38. This is what happens when you treat your house like an ATM. I honestly have no sympathy for these greedy homeowners or the failing banks.

  39. Spiffy, I’m gonna head up to Tulalip this weekend, can you spot be $1000? I’ll pay you back Monday, I promise.

  40. Are you kidding? You don’t deserve help.

    To deserve help, you need to use your house as an ATM, hit the casinos, take out a couple of ARMs on your house, hit the casinos some more and when the sh*t hits the fan, go to the corner of Union and 23rd and wave a big sign that says “I’m a Jackass, help me”….

    Oh no, that’s not right, your sign should read, “I’m a victim, help me!”

  41. You wouldn’t be joking about it if your ass was on the street and your spouse in the hospital, Daved.

    But as long as you’ve got yours, screw everyone else, right? Every man for himself, right?

  42. Not saying this is true in this situation, but a few things I have seen are:

    Applying for a mortgage five years ago was a completely different experience for me than applying 30 years ago. Thirty years ago I was interviewed and my finances were scrutinized carefully. I was encouraged to go for a thirty year fixed rate and to buy within my means. Five years ago I supplied some basic information and when I asked how much I qualify for, was asked ‘How much do you want?’ To which I responded, ‘How much do I qualify for if it is a 30-year fixed, and I want to pay no more than $xxxx per month?’ Took some arguing to get them to give me an answer.

    A have a friend in another state who had the means to buy a home in a new development. They basically refused to deal with her offering a 30-year mortgage which her bank had prequalified her for. I supposed the builder was tied in with the financing operation. It was not explicit, but they would not deal with her until they finally decied they wanted to finish up operations in that development. They then told her that no one else they sold to had a fixed rate mortgage.

    This has been the reality and consequence of deregulation, where bottom feeders will take advantage and even people who would not have behaved that way are rewarded for certain behaviors. Everyone does not have a lawyer (which I did for my first home purchase) or even necessarily a legal and financial education.

    The WORST I think is all those official looking notifications with your mortgage information and statements that you must call them that would make people think that they are supposed to refinance. Ever called those people????

  43. I’ve ‘got mine’, as you put it because I didn’t treat my home like an ATM and then go gamble and expect you to bail my a** out.

  44. Seattle does have a community land trust…Homestead Community Land Trust.

    They helped me buy a house in the CD almost five years ago. And have now helped over fifty families in the City. Check it out!

  45. I beleive this family has lived in this same house ( 900 block of 21st Ave ) for that time period. I stopped by and spoke to the Husband during a late Summer garage sale, and found him very friendly and engaging. He had that yard and side drive way so full of valuables that there was only a path to and from the front door. He was sad to be selling off his “collection” ( his term, but indicated they were considering moving. At the time, I had no idea of why they were considering a move, and I incorrectly assumed that thhe old house was too big and probably in need of too many repairs.

    I understand that there may have been reasons why this couple needed to draw equity out of their house, and I think we should respect that these folks were adult enough to seek out and arrange for this money. What seems to be generally agreed ( from comments above and below ) is that the bank should have been more dilligent and possibly not have extended this couple quite so much cash. What I do not understand is, why doesn’t the bail out we tax payers financed extend to help these folks and folks like them? True they made mistakes, but this is the time we need to remidy these loan errors. Why kick them out of their home, why add stress to them and their neighbors if it can be avoided?

  46. I looked up a mortgage calculator. To come up with a payment of about $2,568 a month, a person would be paying off a $200,000 loan, over a 15 year period, at 11% interest. Eleven percent! And even higher interest if the loan period is longer. In this economy, when I can’t get more than 2% on a CD, that’s usury.

  47. My math may be basic, but I think it demonstrates a point. Let’s assume that she owes $175,000 – Originally borrowed $100,000, paid nothing down on it and owes $75,000 in penalties. Anyone here willing to pay $200,000 for a livable house in the Central District? I sure would. Even $275,000. That’s a pretty good deal for the buyer and would give them $100,000 to start a new life, drop a hefty down payment on another property, whatever. But they’re trying to sell for $550,000?!? They have a way out of this where they could walk away with a good amount of money, but they’re unwilling to do that.

    The banks were nasty and crooked. No doubt about that. But this situation seems sketchy. No one will convince me that they owe more than $550,000 and shouldn’t take a whole lot of responsibility for that themselves.

  48. I own a property just down from these folks, and have no doubt but what my larger, better condition home is not worth the $550K value referenced, and would think something may be terribly wrong if a bank actually refinaced their property to such a value. If this is the case, then I would hope this court action and News coverage high-lights the need for a possible investigation of this loaning bank’s actions.

    As to someone being able to get the bank to accept any offer below their current mortgage, and to allow the current folks to walk away with $100,000, ..well sounds good, but possibly not too realistic ( I like it but doubt the bank would ).

  49. SO we should bail everyone out that makes a stupid decision. She made some unfortunate choices in the past and they are coming to fruition. She will need to consider leaving the house and moving into an apartment. When you make mistakes there are consequences and in this case, she is going to lose her house. I sympathize with her situation, but she is the only one that can take responsibility for her actions. We don’t practice this much anymore, but personal responsibility is still needed in this country.

  50. I am just wanting to correct a detail in this story. The Mitchell family does NOT have a gambling problem. I am not sure if the word was taken out of context or if it was a “gamble” using the different types of mortgages that are out there. One thing is for sure, gambling, the way most people are thinking of it, is not a factor in this situation. I am glad that this site took the time to publish this story. I just wanted to clear up the misconception that people may have. The Mitchells are hard working people, who do not, nor have they ever wasted money in a casino, gambling hall, bingo parlor, etc… Thanks for letting me set the story straight. Gia

  51. Normally, i would agree with you, however, in this particular instance, some facts were reported incorrectly, or used out of context. The Mitchell is NOT a gambling family, and never has been. I believe in speaking to the reporter, the word gambling was used, when addressing some different types of mortgages, however, not gambling as in a casino, bingo, lottery tickets, scratch tickets, or anything else gambling related. I hate to see a story, especially when i KNOW the truth, written in a negative light. I am glad that there is a forum to address this mistake although it seems like rumors always get spread quickly, whereas the truth takes a while to be passed around :) or so my mama told me. Gia

  52. It is fascinating to read these comments and see how fast people jumped to conclusions when the original article did not contain enough specific information to know what the real issues were.

    Even with the added information it is hard to know what the whole story is, and without knowing the story its not my place to have any opinions (judgmental thoughts) on the subject.

    I am sorry that they are facing financial hardship, and at risk of losing a home that they have been in for 40 years, and that husband has stroked out reportedly due to stress.