A U.S. congressman and members of the Windsor, Colo. community turned out to support U.S. military veteran Ed Sharp this past Veterans Day after the congressman’s intervention in a reverse mortgage stopped a foreclosure from proceeding earlier this year, according to reporting from a local affiliate of CBS News.
Ed Sharp, a resident of Superior, Colo., lost his manufactured home in the Marshall Fire: a December 2021 blaze that burned more than 6,000 acres and caused an estimated $513 million in damage.
Earlier this year, Sharp’s reverse mortgage lender aimed to foreclose on him for violating the reverse mortgage’s occupancy rule, which requires the borrower to live in the property as their primary residence. A query to the Boulder County Treasurer’s office identified Sharp’s lender as Liberty Reverse Mortgage, a division of PHH Mortgage Corp.
However, since Sharp lost his home in a natural disaster, members of his family took his story public with a local CBS News story, televised in the community and gaining the attention of Colorado State Rep. Kyle Brown (D), Sharp’s own representative in the state’s 12th district.
Brown vowed to introduce legislation to protect reverse mortgage borrowers impacted by natural disasters, which the legislature previously tried and failed to do following a flood in Boulder County in 2013.
In an interview with RMD, Brown said that in addition to his work at the state level, he felt federal lawmakers should take a closer look at reverse mortgage policies and their impacts on natural disaster victims.
Not long afterward, Rep. Joe Neguse (D) — who represents Sharp in the U.S. House of Representatives — also turned his attention to the issue, reaching out directly to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Julia Gordon. This seemed to stop the foreclosure from moving forward, but when the lender tried to foreclose again, Neguse intervened once more.
Soon afterward in May, Rep. Neguse’s office announced that HUD had agreed to change the practices that govern mortgage foreclosures in the areas impacted by the Marshall Fire, but an official announcement from the Department itself did not follow. HUD later clarified for RMD that the new safeguards are largely focused on improving the information available in the Home Equity Reverse Mortgage Information Technology (HERMIT) system.
At the Veterans Day celebration this past week, Sharp recounted losing his medals earned during the Vietnam War for exemplary service. Rep. Neguse also attended the event, and surprised Sharp.
“We remember and we pay tribute to the personal sacrifices made by service members and their families,” Neguse said at the event according to CBS News. He then called Sharp’s daughter-in-law Maggie to the microphone with him to give her father a surprise.
“And so I am honored today to be able to present Ed with replacement medals for the ones that he lost during that fire,” Neguse said.
Neguse also presented Sharp with an American flag that has flown above the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as well as national gratitude.
“We are grateful to you Ed. We are grateful to your family and we are grateful to this incredible community in the greatest state and the greatest country in the history of the world,” Neguse said.
“This means a hell of a lot to me,” Sharp said.