Eviction notices canceled by California investors




Posted on March 3, 2010 at 11:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 4 at 11:06 PM

JOHNSON COUNTY — When we first met her on Monday, Teresa Salinas was a ball of nerves, worried about losing her rented home.

It was scheduled to be sold at auction on Tuesday, because Lana Smeenk — who owned the property and eight others — had defaulted on those mortgages.

But Jamie Adams and her ex-husband, private investors from California, stepped in to purchase Salinas' residence, and agreed to let her family stay.

"I'm so thankful for her... me and my family that I have a place to live... I'm just so excited I get to stay," Salinas said.

Adams and her ex bought all nine of the homes that Smeenk defaulted on, and quickly made an emotional connection with the perfect strangers who were renting.

"This is the American dream to own a home, and this was their opportunity," Jamie Adams said in a telephone interview. "They were conned into thinking they owned a home, so I felt they deserve that opportunity."

Many of Adams' new tenants are in desperate need. Some, like mother-of-three Genie Castanuela had no other place to go.

"She saved all of our homes," Castanuela said. "I'm so happy, so relieved... so relieved that we actually got our house, kids have their rooms, can come home and not worry where we are going tonight."

Salinas, Castanuela and the other families said they had been led to believe they were renting to own. They later learned their rent wasn't being used to pay the mortgage.

"How can someone just come in and take money, knowing they have a family to feed, electricity, water," Castanuela said. "Then the next thing you know, foreclosure... on the street."

But from cruelty, a simple act of kindness has changed lives.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com