When even a single home goes into foreclosure, the effects can be far reaching. In the case of Dee, when she faced foreclosure on her home in Prince George's County, Md., the potential hardship extended well beyond her immediate family.
Dee's home not only shelters some of her six children and occasionally her four grandchildren, but is also a place of refuge for neighbors, friends, and sometimes complete strangers who need a roof over their heads.
"I'm on the front lines of what's happening in our economy in terms of unemployment and people losing their homes," says Dee (who asked that we not use her last name). "I've been the neighborhood mom and have fed or given shelter to many people since I bought this house in 1999."
Recently, Dee provided a safe place to stay for a single mother and her four kids.
"She had lost her job and her apartment and was going to sleep in her car," Dee says. Dee and her adult children (ages 19 to 29) helped the woman get back on her feet. The woman found three jobs, started college classes, and gets her kids to school daily. Now the family is thriving in a safe environment.
Things could have turned out very differently for the woman, her kids, Dee and her family -- and the entire community. And they almost did when Dee nearly lost her home.
The First Blow
Dee says her home wasn't "comfortably affordable" right from the start, but she felt it was smarter to own a home than rent because she was a single parent with six children. She was fearful that rising rents would push her out of an apartment, so locking into a mortgage seemed to make more sense even though it was a stretch for her budget.
Dee worked for an international law firm and, thanks to her base salary and overtime pay, she was able to cover her mortgage. "I was diligent about paying my mortgage, and I didn't refinance when my home's value increased," she says.
That changed in 2008 when her company eliminated all overtime. "My income dropped. Although I tried to continue making payments, my mortgage eventually became delinquent," she says.
She sought a loan modification to make her mortgage payments more affordable. "But the bank returned my loan payment and began the foreclosure process."
Then on Sept. 11, 2009, Dee and 43 other employees of her law firm were laid off.
Read the rest of this story at Daily Finance.
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