Carole & I walked nervously into Eagle Valley Homes’ main office. We hopped a bus from Port Authority in NYC straight up to Brodheadsville, PA.
The whole bus ride, Carole swore we were going to be turned down for financing… “We’re making this trip for nothing”.
We had a cashier’s check for $30,000. It was money left to Carole by her grandmother for her to buy a home one day. It was our down payment for our slice of the American Dream.
With big smiles, the sales rep greeted us with the good news. “Of COURSE you were approved for a mortgage, we wouldn’t waste your time, or ours, by making you come all the way here. I already consider you guys Pennsylvanians! Come on, I’ll show you guys your community.”
As we drove into Candlewood Estates, several dozen homes were in various stages of construction. The future site of 1145 Timber Drive was already being excavated for its foundation. In between the framed structures of our future neighbors.
“See? Once you were approved for financing, we began to break ground this morning.”
“It’s the perfect place for kids.”, the sales rep explains on the drive back to the office, “There is a zero crime rate in these area. The state police had to break up a fight in the high school last year, that was it.”
There was lie #1. Not two days before that, a teenage girl was raped and her throat slit, less than a mile from our community. A Ku Klux Klan chapter was formed and rallied here in Blakeslee (because the rapist was black). The Klan had also threatened to burn our community down as the majority of people that Eagle Valley Homes was putting in the community were inner-city blacks… so it was a tense first year of us living there.
We also found out that Candlewood Estates should have never been built. The area was wetlands, and a major gas pipeline runs through the area underground. Longtime community residents recall dump trucks, full of dirt, in the middle of the night, and one day, the area was approved for building. No one can explain how this was possible without Eagle Valley greasing someone’s palms in Tunkhannock township.
“Your house will double in value, within a year, everyone will refinance their homes for a better rate.”
Lie #2. We paid $169,000 for our homes, and they appraised on average of $115,000. They knew this all along. Families counting on a lower mortgage, barely keeping their heads above water, now realized they were totally fucked.
By Spring of 1999, the steep mortgages were becoming too much for many neighbors to handle… and the foreclosures were starting in a chain reaction.