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The $800 foreclosure

Welcome home, soldier.

Michael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners’ association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500. This story illustrates the type of legal quagmire that can get out of hand while soldiers are serving abroad and their families are dealing with the stress of their deployment. And fixing the mess isn’t easy.

Michael went on active duty in February 2008 and was sent to Iraq. After he shipped out, his wife May slipped into a deep depression, according to court documents. “A lot of people say that the deployment is more stressful on the spouse than the actual person who’s being deployed,” Michael, 37, says in an interview with Mother Jones. May Clauer had two kids to take care of—a ten-year-old and a one-year-old with a serious seizure-related disorder. In addition, she was worried sick about her husband. Michael’s company was doing convoy security in Iraq—an extremely dangerous job. “It was a pretty tough year for the whole company,” he says. “We had IEDs, rocket attacks and mortar attacks, and a few soldiers that were hurt pretty bad and had to be airlifted back to the States.”

Seeking to avoid hearing about the situation in Iraq, May stopped watching the news. She rarely answered the door, and Michael says he couldn’t tell her when he went “outside the wire”—off-base. May also stopped opening the mail. “I guess she was scared that she would hear bad news,” says Michael. That was why she missed multiple notices from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association informing her that the family owed $800 in dues—and then subsequent notices stating that the HOA was preparing to foreclose on the debt and seize the home.

The story was originally reported a couple of weeks earlier by WFAA. There are plenty of other examples of this sort of thing happening as well. As the story notes, there was legislation filed last year to prevent this sort of thing, but it didn’t make it through. (I’m pretty sure this is the bill in question; expect something like it to be filed next year as well.) In the meantime, the Clausers are attempting to get their home back via the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), but it’s costing them a bunch of money; there’s a legal defense fund for them, with info at the bottom of the article if anyone is interested. Maybe this little bit of publicity will help shame their HOA into doing the right thing as well. Hopefully, the next Lege will be able to carry that bill across the finish line so this won’t happen again.

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One Comment

  1. maitha says:

    This is heartbreaking! I am glad that someone is acknowledging the fact that the spouse left behind during a military personnel’s deployment is as if not more stressful than the deployed personnel’s experience! Where can I find info on their legal fund? I want t help! Surely changes must be made if sending soldiers to war, care must be given to their families in america.