{{featured_button_text}}

The last time Elena Rivera's mortgage with US Bank reached the crisis stage, she resolved it with last-minute pleas for leniency to the bank.

This time, the mother whose daughter is dying of a rare brain ailment picked up a stack of protest signs, summoned a small circle of friends and led them to a visible position outside the bank.

"US Bank Please Don't Take My Home," said one of the signs pointed toward late-afternoon traffic Monday at the intersection of 70th and A streets.

Tuesday afternoon, a bank spokeswoman said an end-of-the-month eviction plan was on hold.

Tahirih Rivera, 26, graduated from Lincoln Northeast in 2001. She and Elena, both Honduran immigrants, achieved citizenship in the same ceremony at their home in 2008.

But in between, Tahirih's increasingly severe headaches turned out to be a rare condition called craniopharyngioma. Rampant growth of noncancerous tumors is crowding out healthy tissue in her brain.

Various treatment options have failed, and doctors now regard Tahirih's condition as terminal.

Along the way, $730 monthly mortgage payments to the bank have lapsed. Elena Rivera, 59, acknowledged Tuesday she hasn't made one since November 2008 -- although she says she's in a position to make one or more now.

Earlier this year, bank spokesman Steve Dale said the nation's sixth largest bank would cut their beleaguered borrower some slack.

"We have created a way for them to stay in the home until the end of March," Dale said in January.

Monday, as things turned more contentious, bank management called the police.

But Tuesday, Jennifer Wendt of the bank's media relations staff in Minneapolis offered an e-mail and, once again, a more conciliatory tone.

According to Wendt, "we have put Ms. Rivera's eviction on hold for now, and she will not need to be moving out of the home at the end of this month."

Certainty was much easier to achieve in conversation with Elena Rivera and Tahirih's older sister, Claudia, 28, who lives in Rochester, Minn.

"My sister can't die in the street," said Claudia Rivera.

Elena Rivera is adamant her daughter will not go to a hospice setting, nor will she go to Rochester, where Elena's ex-husband, Claudio, is offering space in a home he shares with his second wife and two sons.

"Never, never, never," said Elena.

As they insisted in earlier interviews, family members are saying again they want Tahirih in the setting where she's experienced the best moments of her life.

As of Tuesday, Rivera said her arrangement with the state Department of Health and Human Services allows her to collect $2,400 a month as Tahirih's personal caregiver.

An HHS spokeswoman said that agency has paid $74,599 in Medicaid funding for that purpose since June 2007.

Now confined to a wheelchair and with varying degrees of paralysis along the left side of her body, Tahirih sat squinting into the afternoon sunshine Monday as traffic whizzed north and south.

Asked how she felt, she alluded to another headache.

A few drivers honked -- some vigorously -- as they glanced at an array of signs that also included such messages as "We Trusted US Bank" and "My Daughter Has a Final Stage Brain Tumor. Have Mercy."

US Bank has had its own institutional and recession-related troubles, even as its management has tried to get current on a loan on the Rivera house that Elena Rivera said carries a balance of about $86,000.

The federal government provided almost $6.6 billion in bailout funds to US Bank in November 2008. The bank paid the money back in June 2009.

So far, there's no sign that the Rivera family can do the same.

In Rochester Tuesday, 56-year-old Claudio Rivera said it's no longer his mortgage obligation. And there's no way for him to pick up the financial tab on the basis of his medical lab technician's salary.

"If I had the money," he said, "I would go to the bank and pay off everything. I don't have the money, believe me. I don't know what I can do."

He credited Elena with "doing an excellent job with Tahirih."

Despite what both of Tahirih's parents described as a bitter divorce, "I'm human," Claudio Rivera said, "and she's my daughter and I love her so much."

Unaware of the latest developments, Elena Rivera was involved in another protest appearance at another US Bank branch Tuesday.

Captain David Beggs of the Lincoln Police Department said responding officers saw no violations of the law Monday.

"We were given a call that there were picketers there," Beggs said Tuesday. "And my instruction to the sergeant who was there was that, as long as they were picketing in legal fashion, we were not going to interfere with them."

Despite the bank's assertions that "we're trying to work with her," Elena Rivera said she hadn't spoken with anyone from the bank in months.

"I don't have anything against the people who work there -- or anyone," she said. "I'm just fighting for what is right."

Claudia Rivera was available for the latest news on the mortgage situation.

"At least that's a little bit of relief from having to worry about things the last few days here," she said.

"God is definitely answering our prayers and we're just trusting and keeping the faith."

Reach Art Hovey at 473-7223 or at ahovey@journalstar.com.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0

Tags

Load comments