Family struggling with illness gets help finding a home that matches meager income
My husband is disabled. I work part time. I am not able to work any more hours because my husband needs care. We have three children living at home with us. They are 10, 12 and 15.
Two years ago my husband came down with what he thought was the flu. He continued working until he collapsed a few days later. It turned out he has systemic lupus erythematosus. We had never even heard of such a thing. He struggles to walk due to the constant inflammation in his joints. He also has nerve problems and recurring fevers. I see a continual downward spiral in his health.
It has been hard to pay our bills with my part-time pay and his disability check. We still are living in the house we purchased eight years ago, before he was sick and we both were working full time. We are months behind in our mortgage payments and are facing foreclosure. We never thought this would happen to us.
-- Struggling due to illness
I went to the address listed on the letter. The wife answered the door and was surprised to see me. I introduced myself, but she said no introduction was necessary. She invited me in to meet the rest of the family.
The oldest child jumped up to help the father stand when I came in. I told them not to bother, it was not necessary for him to get up. They shook my hand in greeting. I asked if I could sit and talk with them for a while and they said, “Please do.”
I noticed their clothing and shoes were worn. I also noted the chill in the house and the blanket wrapped around the father. It was obvious they were having a hard time with the utility bills. I remembered these marks of poverty from my own childhood. I knew they were truly suffering in silence due to poverty and a disability. It is far more common than most people think.
We talked for a while about the father’s illness and what assistance they were receiving. I assembled all their income and expenses and we put together their budget. They were struggling to pay a mortgage they could no longer afford. I suggested the first thing to do was get into an affordable housing situation. They were afraid to lose the house, but after reviewing their mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance, high utility bills and an overall budget, they realized they could no longer stay in the house. It was far beyond their means now that the father was obviously disabled and unable to work. It also was obvious the mother could only work part time because she was needed at home to care for her ailing husband. I watched as he attempted several simple things and had tears in his eyes as he collapsed in his chair in defeat.
Their budget would work with no property taxes or maintenance, lower utility bills and a rent that was much cheaper than their mortgage payments. Because they had no savings and only $26 to their name, I offered to pay their first month’s rent and security deposit when we found a reasonable rental that the family could afford.
Their car was older, but paid for. It would need a few repairs but was in good shape. I agreed with the wife that the car was worth saving. The car was needed for doctor visits and the wife’s job. We agreed to have the car repaired.
I referred them to the food pantry for extra food and provided gift cards for their immediate food, gas and toiletry needs. I asked for the utility bills, because I noticed they were behind when working on their budget.
When I made a comment about the husband’s blanket wrapped around him, the youngest child said, “Mom and I put ours behind the chair when we heard the door bell.”
The mother looked embarrassed. I just laughed and said, “Honesty out of the mouth of babes.”
The mother smiled after that. I told them we would bring their utilities up-to-date.
I returned to visit after they were settled in their rental. The husband said he was feeling better, but he also said he knew this was the nature of the disease. It can progress quickly and have remissions. The father felt the remission was helped by the reduction in financial stress in their lives. I hope and pray this remission gives them the relief they need from the daily struggle of his illness. The whole family thanked all of you for your support of The Time Is Now to Help.
Once again, together, we make our world a better place doing God’s good works. Thank you for caring and sharing.
Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,
Please help: Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax-deductible, itemized thank-you receipt showing exactly what every penny of your donation provided for the poverty stricken.
A special thank you to: Paul Ziegler/Ziegler Charitable Foundation, The Petco Foundation, Geneva National, Mark and Natalie Reno, Walworth Fontana Rotary Foundation, Dick and Jean Honeyager, James and Lynne Newman Foundation, Kunes Country Auto Group, Walter and Florence Strumpf, Loretta Jankowski, Milton and Carol Ann Ancevic, Beth Rendall, Roger Gilbert, Susan Koenen Russella, Victoria Wertz, James and Karen Goodrick, John and Karen Bullock, Michael and Kathe Beach, Carolyn May Essel, Doris Esmond, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God-loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries, all of you who support The Time Is Now to Help donation boxes and the businesses that allow our donation boxes. Anyone who would like a Time Is Now donation box in your business, call (262) 249-7000.