Jose Vega of Pittsburg has seen the foreclosure crisis up close from three different perspectives. He gave 7 On Your Side a unique glimpse on the personal toll the housing meltdown is taking.
Vega is a Bay Area realtor. He first saw the foreclosure crisis through the eyes of his clients and then his children. One day he found his daughter crying.
"She says you know, I have no friends, they're all moving away," he says.
Many of his children's friends were moving away in the middle of the night, their parents so embarrassed by foreclosure they could not bear to say goodbye.
"I remember very specifically Nestor... I'm sorry," Vega recalled as he started to cry. "He came to play with my kids one day and he was very sad. He wasn't talking a whole lot and I didn't know, I thought he got in trouble at his house. That's the last time we saw him."
Vega now finds himself having to prepare his 6-year-old and 9-year-old children to losing their house in Pittsburg. He himself has been turned down by JP Morgan Chase three different times for a loan modification because they say he did not meet income guidelines. Once, he even received an offer for a modification and on the same day he received a letter of denial.
7 On Your Side first met Vega at a meeting in San Jose with the chief of President Obama's "Making Home Affordable Program."
"It seems to me, this is all about the bank's best interest and not ours," Vega says.
Vega knows the odds of keeping his home are long and he is prepared for the worst.
"When you lose your home, you lose your dreams," he says.
He now has channeled his energy into helping others. He is a volunteer leader in the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO). Vega joined CCISCO at demonstrations and even represented the group at a JP Morgan Chase shareholders meeting.
Alan Fisher at the California Reinvestment Coalition was with Vega at that meeting.
"What impressed me is he's someone with principles who's concerned not only about himself, but angry at what happened to him, but not just angry for himself, but for people in his neighborhood and people in his church," he told 7 On Your Side.
Chase CEO Jamie Diamond agreed at that meeting to send Chase executives to meet with CCISCO, but the bank has since cancelled the meeting. Vega says he no longer fears losing his home because he says they can take his house, but not his home.
"See, that's different. That's mine. I make my home. My wife and my children and me together make a home. They can't take that from us," he says.
Chase declined an opportunity to comment on why it cancelled the meeting, but it did say it offered Vega a loan modification that would have lowered his principal and interest rate. Vega said he turned down that offer because the savings were insignificant.