Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Penalty of Poverty

Trey Smith

On the housing front, things have been looking up for Della and I...sort of. In the last 3 weeks, we have been contacted by three different sites and already have participated in the initial interviews for two of them (Westport and Ocean Shores).  Both are relatively close AND on the southwest Washington coast.

While both of these plus another one in Shelton look somewhat promising, we have run into a bit of an obstacle: the penalty of poverty.  On Friday, the manager of the complex in Ocean Shores called to say that our initial application had been denied (though there IS a way around this).  What's the problem?  We understandably have dings on our credit report.

For the last three months, we have been trying to survive on a mere $756/month.  Due to Della's hospitalization during the last week of March and her inability to work since, we are being slammed with medical bills.  All told, I'd say the total tab to date is somewhere between $2,000 - $3,000!  We simply do not have the money to pay them and so late notices are showing up at the credit agencies.

Here is the proverbial catch-22.  If we had the requisite funds to pay these bills, we probably would be doing well enough to stay current on our mortgage and thus have no reason to move.  The sole reason we are being forced to move is that we are so cash poor.  And yet, being so cash poor negatively impacts our credit score which might jeopardize our ability to qualify for subsidized housing!

I certainly understand that the apartment managers and the corresponding federal agency (HUD or USDA) want to insure that the people whom they rent to will pay their subsidized rent regularly and on time.  That is a no-brainer.  But expecting those of us mired in poverty to have pristine credit scores is completely unrealistic, particularly when these scores are impacted negatively by a medical emergency.

As noted above, we have been told that there is a possible avenue around this quagmire.  We have to write up a detailed explanation of WHY our credit score is not pristine and, in many instances, a requirement waiver will be granted.  I certainly hope this happens to be the case or, when our home is finally foreclosed on, we will be living in our little car!

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