I met Sandra and John shortly before Christmas of 2010. Their home of 17 years had recently been foreclosed upon and they were in the midst of moving out. I stayed in touch with them over the next six months as they worked to complete a short sale of their old, settle into a new rental house, and rebuild a sense of normalcy and stability for themselves and their children. The level of grace and dignity with which Sandra and John faced their situation – even when recounting their most desperate moments – never ceased to amaze me.
An estimated seven out of ten individuals and families, when faced with foreclosure, never tell anyone; never ask for help. The stigma of shame and embarrassment attached to foreclosure can be overwhelming. However, more often than not, the individual stories of foreclosure are not tales of personal failings and irresponsibility; they are stories of unfortunate events and systemic failures of the American economy.
To anyone facing foreclosure: you are not alone. There are many others in similar situations and many groups and individuals willing and ready to help. Sandra and John enlisted the help of the Affordable Housing Centers of America, local short sale realtors, therapists and many other friends, family members and strangers to sort through the financial, emotional, and mental assaults of the foreclosure process. Though the details of their story are unique, they have faced and continue to face the same obstacles that millions of other American families are experiencing.