Thanks to an outpouring of community support, Helen Sinclair, also known as “Queen Mother,” was able to stay in her Bronzeville home. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times

Community steps up to help longtime crusader

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SHARE Community steps up to help longtime crusader

Thanks to an outpouring of community support, Helen Sinclair, also known as “Queen Mother” will be able to stay in her Bronzeville home.

Many people across the state know Sinclair as a prison chaplain.

As of Monday afternoon, 242 donors have contributed $9,980 at the gofundme page set up for the benefit of the 97-year-old community activist.

Your donations will help Sinclair meet her tax and insurance obligations under the conditions of a reverse mortgage she acquired five years ago.

Because of a dispute over the amount of taxes owed on the property the elderly woman has lived in since 1927, the tax payments fell in arrears.


After Sinclair went public with the foreclosure, Wells Fargo Bank, agreed to accept installment payments for the indebtedness.

Whatever funds Sinclair has left after paying the tax and insurance obligations would be used to make much-needed repairs on the historic residence.

“I’ve already sent them the first check,” Sinclair told me with jubilation.

“A lot of people reached out, and first of all, I want to thank them for the prayers. That’s the No. 1 thing. While I was busy doing the prison work, I didn’t know what to do about this,” she said.

Although the fundraising campaign had a disappointing start, many of you have since pitched in with donations ranging from $5 to $100.

“We love you Queen Mother and will work hard to reach this goal. There are still many who do not know about this, so we need to get the word out. We will NOT let you down!” Carol Adams wrote on the gofundme site.

Your financial contributions were a tremendous blessing to someone who has tried to look out for the forgotten souls among us.

Meanwhile, this is a good time to go over a few important facts about reverse mortgages.

Terry Savage, a syndicated financial columnist and former colleague contacted me and suggested that my criticism of the reverse mortgage industry is unfair.

She pointed me to her recent column, “Reverse Mortgages: A Personal Story,” that can be found at her website:

In the article, Savage explains why reverse mortgages could be a good way to ensure that an elderly person can stay in his or her home in the final stage of life.

Who can get one: “[Reverse mortgages] are available to those age 62 and older who are using the home as a primary residence.”

How do reverse mortgages work:

“They “work better if there is no mortgage, or only a small remaining balance on an existing mortgage. You will be charged interest on the amount withdrawn, and there are fees to originate the loan. So it’s only worth doing if you plan to live in the house for at least five years.”

How much can you get?

“The amount of money you can receive — either in a lump sum or in a monthly check — is determined by your age (or joint ages of spouses who co-own the home), by the current level of interest rates and, of course, by the current market value of your home, less any current mortgage balance.”

Conditions of the loan:

“You must pay the property taxes, insurance, condo or community assessments, and maintain the property.”

Savage warns, “Taking out a reverse mortgage is a big step.”

“Recognizing this, the government requires counseling by an independent, trained and HUD-approved third-party agency,” she said.

Given that confusion over reverse mortgages put this 97-year-old woman on the brink of homelessness, it might be a good idea for churches to consider holding workshops about these loans.

After all, most seniors don’t have anywhere near the support that has been shown for Sinclair.

And you know what that would mean if something went wrong.

Without your help, this dedicated crusader could have very well ended up on the street.

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