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  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

    Cindy Amrine, right, prepares to add an event to a calender last week while daughter Kristin, 15, hugs Lucy. They are being evicted from their Citrus Heights home.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

    Cindy Amrine hugs daughter Teagan Sherr, 13, after returning on her first day at a temp job on Tuesday. Daughters Lauren Amrine, 19, left, and Kristin Sherr, 15, right, look on. Sacramento Bee readers, upon learning the family is being evicted, have offered to help.

Citrus Heights woman facing foreclosure heartened by Samaritans

Published: Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 9:20 am

Cindy Amrine knows there are no guarantees of security for her and her four teenage daughters, whose only certainty is the loss of their longtime family home after Bank of America foreclosed and sold it to investors.

But a huge outpouring of offers of aid from Sacramento Bee readers, including donors who have said they will pay her rent for a year and a couple who have offered to buy a house and rent it to her, have given her a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

"It just makes me feel like some people are very special, and I'm very thankful for the hope that they've given me that I can turn this around," Amrine said.

A month ago, Amrine and her daughters faced eviction from their Citrus Heights home with nowhere to go or store their belongings. The girls, ages 13 to 19, would have had to sleep on the couches of different friends and relatives.

After a bitter divorce, and years of staying out of the workforce to raise her daughters, Amrine started a temporary accounting job last week and is hoping it is the start of steady employment.

Her ex-husband, she said, has failed to pay child support. The couple mortgaged their Citrus Heights home to buy another house in Roseville, which they lost to foreclosure. They moved back to Citrus Heights. After her husband left, Amrine said she could no longer afford the payments.

In a lawsuit filed by Sacramento attorney Jan Dudensing, Amrine claims Bank of America foreclosed even as it negotiated to let her conduct a short sale, in which it would have accepted less than what it was owed, with an offer to provide $20,000 in relocation costs. This "dual tracking" violated the state's new "homeowner bill of rights," the lawsuit alleges.

Bank of America has not responded in detail to Bee requests for comment, but Dudensing said she has been negotiating with the bank's lawyers to reach a settlement.

A story in June about the family's plight prompted dozens of readers to offer help, from taking care of their pets to providing storage spaces.

The Southern California management company that now controls the house the family owned for more than two decades has extended their move-out date to Sept. 1, Dudensing said.

In the meantime, two individuals have offered to pay Amrine's rent for six months each. Despite that, Amrine has found it nearly impossible to find a home to rent. Landlords expressed concern about her lack of a job and what would happen after the aid ran out, she said.

Now, neighbors who followed her story in The Bee say they intend to buy an investment property and allow Amrine to rent it starting later this month.

They said they were doing it out of a sense of Christian charity.

"We're going to let her live there until she's back on her feet," said the woman, who insisted on remaining anonymous.

The donors who offered to pay the family's rent also did not want to be named.

"It isn't about taking credit. It's about feeling for this family," said one of the benefactors, a Sacramento-area woman with considerable wealth.

She said she had grown up with a single mother who struggled to support her family after a divorce, also with a lack of child support, and felt she understood what the daughters were going through.

"I just wanted to help her get back on her feet," she said. People who offered aid despite their lack of resources are the "real heroes," she said.

Dudensing said another man who also has offered Amrine six months rent said he didn't want to see the family separated. He declined to speak to The Bee or to be identified, the lawyer said.

The urge to help comes from people who feel a family's pain and are motivated to make a difference in the lives of strangers, said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a director at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. The center studies altruism, compassion and other elements of human behavior.

"The first sentiment that arises is empathy – being moved, having a physical sensation in your body resonant of sensations you think other people are experiencing," Simon-Thomas said. "Perhaps you're a mother yourself. You have daughters. You've had experiences yourself being able to make ends meet. It all comes to the surface."

The next emotion, she said, is compassion, which she defined as an urge to act to make a difference. "It's like a surge of energy we get that pushes people to help."

People who are in a position to assist others often don't wish to receive credit because it places them in a superior position to those they are helping, Simon-Thomas said.

"When people don't want to be highlighted for their generosity," she said, "it's coming from a place of common humanity."

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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