By Arthur Delaney
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. -- From next to the dead tree in his backyard, Ernie Soto can see the big house where he used to live. It's perched on the side of a mountain overlooking Alamogordo, a town of 36,000 on the eastern edge of New Mexico's Tularosa Basin.
In 2007 Soto moved downhill to a smaller house with his wife and son. They needed fewer rooms since their grown son and daughter had moved out, and Soto wanted to sell the big house and use the proceeds to start a mechanic business. He figured he'd be better off as an entrepreneur in case the economy worsened.
Their downward mobility has continued, thanks to both mistakes and misfortune. "We just couldn't backpedal fast enough," he says. A guy moved into the bigger house in a rent-to-own situation, Soto says, but the guy died. Then Soto's daughter got sick. He gave up trying to start his business when financing fell through. Then he lost his job. And now he's fighting to keep the smaller house.
He's a conservative Republican, but he thinks he deserves a break, a little leniency, so he can keep his home even though he hasn't made a mortgage payment since 2009.
Soto's congressman, a conservative Republican who's voted to repeal the government's anti-foreclosure programs, has shown sympathy to his constituent by helping him apply for one of those programs.
Soto is struggling against unemployment and foreclosure, the same problems afflicting tens of millions of people across the U.S., problems that pushed more than 2 million into poverty in 2010. Like many who've lost their jobs and homes during the Great Recession, Soto harbors a grievance against the bankers who precipitated the crisis and paid themselves bonuses after taxpayers bailed them out.
While politicians regularly vow to fight for people who face the loss of their homes and jobs "through no fault of their own," reality is rarely that simple. And it's exemplified by the story of Ernie Soto, a hardworking, conservative family man who made questionable financial decisions in hard times, but who never got a bailout. Soto asks, "Can I have just a tiny taste of the pie?"
Read more of Ernie Soto's story
at The Huffington Post
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