Monday, September 20, 2010

Frightened By Recent Decisions and Circumstances, parts 3 & 4; Update 2012

Part 3 - Life Changes Forever

On October 31, when my son had his first psychotic break, it was the beginning of the end of my son's days of employment.  Ever optimistic and in a state of denial about the severity of his illness, we did not file for disability for him. The doctors had high hopes for a better recovery for quite awhile and I followed along with their predictions and prognosis.  In fact, many schizophrenics are able to manage some sort of employment with the proper medications and support.  This hasn't been the case for my little boy.  My son is still very sick, unable to care for himself, unable to be left alone and arrangements are in the works for a day treatment program due to the severity of his illness.  Everyday my heart just breaks all over again for the child I have lost to mental illness.

In June, his doctors told me that it was time to apply for disability. That process continues and we are months away from approval and financial assistance. In the meantime, he has to have weekly therapy, several medications and recurrent hospitalizations when he becomes a danger to himself.  His credit -- before he ever actually had credit - is destroyed and the bill collectors are baying at the door.

Part 4 - The Last Straw Finale

In February, I got my tax bill and discovered that my condo is now worth less than half of what I owe on it. Uh oh. 

In March, thinking that maybe I should just sell the darn thing, I called my original realtor. Her response to my inquiry was that as much as she wanted to help, she can't sell a condo in my suburb to save her life.  Overbuilt with thousands of condos and townhouses, we have been hit hard by the real estate meltdown. Everyday we see another moving van and a new for sale/foreclosure sign goes up.  \an exodus of people leaving for areas where the rent hasn't skyrocketed and the cost of basic living isn't as high as it is here.  

In April, after reviewing my finances and realizing that I would not be able to afford the current mortgage payments by the end of summer, I started the process for help by applying to the Making Homes Affordable Program.  Without going into details that are a whole other column, let's just say that the process did not work as it should have and the due diligence that should have been in process by the bank (mortgage holder) was not in place. After jumping through one too many hoops, I had to enlist the help of a government sponsored financial counseling corporation to run interference -- more than once. 

In July, the bank finally informed us they had all the documents they needed and I would hear something by August 20.

As I noticed the first signs of Fall last week, that old familiar feeling of panic set in. For two weeks, I had been hounding the bank without response.  Knowing that my bank account was dwindling, I again had the counseling corporation run interference.  Time was up and I needed information. 

Finally,  someone at the bank made a decision.  I was denied the program.  I do not have a high enough income to qualify.   Let me repeat that:  They cannot lower my mortgage payments to something I can afford because I do not make enough money to qualify for the program.  Wait, isn't that what the program is for?

It was worst possible of news. My fear of homelessness is becoming closer to reality. Upon hearing the news, I broke down.  It is now the end of summer and I can no longer afford the full mortgage payment. At the beginning of next month, I will be over $1200.00 behind and the number will grow every month until foreclosure proceedings start. By my figures, the possibility of homelessness by Christmas is very real. The bank said they are looking into other programs. They were vague and secretive in their explanations of these "other programs."  I suspect  they were just trying to get me off the phone.

If I could run away, I would already be packing. If I could live in my car, I would be heading for a warmer climate. My son is in treatment, I am in treatment -- we cannot run away. Tears have become my night time companion.

Remember when I typed earlier that it was my superstition that kept me from saying much about it? It was just a silly little thought I had that if I talked about it, I would jinx the process.  How precious are those childhood tactics that we go back to when faced with a consequence we can't deal with?  Today, I am motionless with shock and paralyzed with indecision.

I can't think anymore about homelessness with my schizophrenic son. For just right now, it is just too much. Tomorrow is another day to burn up the phone lines.

Update 2012
We won our modification.  It took almost 3 years from beginning to end.  Thinking about the process: over 100 hours on the phone, two consumer groups, one state and one county agency, 3 federal agencies, 11 Bank of America customer assistants, about a thousand tears, many tantrums, countless failed promises and bottles of anti-anxiety meds boggles the mind. In December 2012, tentative approval was given and after a few smaller hoops, final modifications were granted.  Hip Hip Hooray.