TAMPA (FOX 13) - Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough is apologizing to homeowners after their mortgages were sold to what the non-profit says was "not a regulated financial institution." They also promise to repurchase the mortgages for the 12 homeowners, several of whom had fallen behind on their payments.
After Joann Salas fell behind by $200, she says Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough sold her no-interest mortgage to a company called Southeast Properties.
"We wrote our names on the walls inside," said Joann Salas. "We have built it from the ground."
Instead of settling up with Habitat for about $550, she says Southeast wanted over $1,000.
Danetta Moore says she went from owing $400 to $3,000.
"We are low-income families. Single parents," said Moore. "The best of the best fall behind. I felt like they were throwing us away."
After homeowners spoke out to local media saying they were in danger of losing their homes, Habitat Hillsborough reversed. The local chapter of the national non-profit released a statement saying they often sell mortgages to pay for building new homes.
"It is really a relief, because Habitat was good to us over the years," said Salas.
While they had to take financial literacy courses before signing their mortgages, homeowners want refreshment courses, and a promise from Habitat that falling behind again won't set in motion a similar chain of events.
"This is what the program is about, is helping," said Moore. "If you are going to help us, help us."
In their statement, Habitat Hillsborough also apologized for any failure in communicating with the homeowners.
They also reiterated that they offer a "hand up, not a handout," and that homeowners must comply with their mortgage like any other homeowner.
They promise to continue working with these 12 homeowners.