Where One Program Ends, Another Begins

Most of the time, our clients come to us and receive help from just one specific program. But sometimes, a clients’ housing needs are beyond the scope of what one program can handle. Thankfully, we are able offer multiple solutions to help older adults find and maintain appropriate and affordable housing.

What follows is an account of one client who received assistance this past year.

Post-Foreclosure Assistance – The story starts

The Housing Bureau for Seniors’ Post-Foreclosure Assistance Program sent Jim, a 70-year-old male, an outreach letter offering our services.

Jim’s home was foreclosed on and he knew he would need to vacate the property, but did not know when and did not have a plan as to where he would live. He had lived in his home for many years and always paid the mortgage on time.

What changed? Jim’s his wife died and he retired from his job to take care of his own serious health issues. As a result, his household income was drastically reduced. Now, Jim was faced with finding a way to live solely Social Security. He started using credit cards and before he knew it, his debt reached $50,000.

Although Jim had two adult children living nearby with their families, both were struggling financially and he could not ask them for help, or even admit that he was losing his home – the home in which they had grown up. He was overwhelmed and frightened about his financial and housing situation and could not bring himself to reach out for help immediately. He put the letter aside for possible future reference.

While going through his personal papers to organize for a move, he saw the letter from HBS and gave us a call. He scheduled an appointment for the next day to assess his situation and discuss possible options. The Post-Foreclosure Assistance Coordinator confirmed with the Sheriff that the foreclosure and sale of the home had already occurred. We advised Jim that the 6-month redemption period was ending and he would soon get a notice informing him of a court date for the eviction process to begin.

We worked with Jim to develop a budget to determine what housing options he could afford. Jim shared that he was paying over $900 per month through a credit counseling agency to settle his credit card debt. He was left with approximately $1500 per month for mortgage/rent, utilities, food, car expenses, health care, insurance and all of his other needs. One option we discussed with Jim was bankruptcy and provided him a list of attorneys so he could explore this option with an expert.

We also discussed housing options – senior subsidized housing (including expected waiting lists), low-income housing for all ages, market rate housing options, HomeShare, downsizing and the moving process. Jim decided that, because he had little time with which to work and did not know if his income situation might improve as a result of bankruptcy and discharge of some of his large debts, that he would apply for the Housing Bureau’s HomeShare program where the rent would be affordable even with his present income.

The Home Share coordinator did an assessment and began the process of checking backgrounds and looking for a good match. Meanwhile, Jim received his court notice. The Post-Foreclosure Assistance Coordinator accompanied him to court, discussing what he might expect from the court proceeding and what would be asked of him in terms of participation and negotiation with attorneys representing the mortgage holder. During the court hearing, an agreement was made to vacate the home within 30 days. The next day the client met with a possible HomeShare match and agreed to accept this living arrangement.

Jim expressed gratitude and relief that he did not have to go through this experience alone.

With the stress of dealing with the legal issues and court behind him, he was able to focus on downsizing and moving. He was able to talk to his family about his situation and the decisions he had made, enlisting their support in helping with his move. Within 2 weeks he was completely moved in to his new home.

As a result of counseling he had received from HBS, he had asked for “Cash for Keys” from his bank. Because Jim left his home in good condition and removed all of his possessions he received a check for $800 from his lender which paid for his move.

At the close of his case, Jim was settling into his new home and was feeling relief that this struggle was over, pride in his ability to handle the situation, and even optimism about regaining control over his finances and sticking to a plan to successfully and happily live within his means.

He is now focusing on spending as much time as possible with his grandchildren.

HomeShare – The story continues

Jim came to HomeShare as a referral from the Housing Bureau’s Post-Foreclosure Relocation Assistance Program. Jim had lived in the home with his wife home for over 30 years. Jim’s wife was the house bookkeeper and after her passing he found himself in a challenging situation with significant credit card debt costing $930 each month. Jim tried to keep afloat but was unable to. His home slipped into foreclosure and was sold at Sheriff’s sale leaving him little time to find new, appropriate and affordable housing with a damaged credit history and no rental history. Jim found himself having to make many big decisions, such as filing bankruptcy and where to move from his home with under 6 weeks to do so.

Jim applied for the HomeShare program and was approved for participation. We explored many referrals for Jim. After narrowing down the options based upon compatibility of what Jim was looking for, and what our homeowners were looking for, we referred Jim to Bob.

Bob is 61-year-old disabled veteran who lives alone in a modular home on the west side of Ann Arbor. Bob has participated in HomeShare previously. Bob was once again interested as a way to help increase his financial security and to obtain some household assistance with tasks he has trouble with. When Bob re-presented to the program he was anxious due to an increase in his lot rent and the high cost of utilities. Also, Bob has limited cooking skills and as a result, he would eat out often, or pick up prepared foods which is costly.

The HomeShare program introduced Jim and Bob and they had an immediate connection, both men served in the military and have a love of sports. After discussing the option of living together in detail and after several days of contemplation, both gentlemen decided to move forward with sharing Bob’s home. The HomeShare program helped to negotiate the details of the shared housing contract. Jim paid Bob $300 per month as a financial contribution including his portion of utilities. Jim was responsible for making home cooked meals at least 3 times per week. In addition Jim was also charged with helping with the weekly housekeeping.

The extra income helped Bob to keep afloat with increasing lot rent and utility costs. It improved his quality of life as he gained companionship, help with housekeeping, and home cooked meals which are important to him.

With this HomeShare situation, Jim was able to move into a safe and secure housing where he stayed for over 9 months. During this time, Jim was able to save money and he decided to move forward with bankruptcy – which he completed.

With his savings and a positive landlord reference from Bob, Jim was able to move into an independent apartment where he can continue to rebuild his life and maintain appropriate, and affordable housing. And, of course, spend more time with his grandchildren.

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