This post was written in partnership with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). I am compensated for spreading the word about MSHDA programs, but all thoughts, dramatic stories, and run-on sentences are my own.
We sat in a quaint diner, three blocks from the lake we loved and decided to put in an offer on a sunny lake house we’d been circling for weeks. A year or so out from our wedding, we spent weekends when Ashlyn was at her grandparents driving around and around trying to find our next home.
Never ones for sitting still when it comes to where we live, our house hunt was on again. Our first home together wasn’t going to cut it if our plans to grow our family ever truly happened. We spent our free time looking for extra bedrooms and wondering how many we might need.
As we signed the offer, Mark reminded me one more time that this was sealing the deal on life as a two-parent working household. I had always thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom but I loved my job. I knew I could make it work in a way you perceive things with certainty before the reality of them comes steamrolling over your life.
Tucked into our new home, we spent weekends on our boat with our bills on autopay- as one does when your income is secure. We could even afford the fertility specialists I eventually needed to see. And see again and again and again.
After an achingly long time of struggling, the news we were having twins was the perfect surprise. Two babies would be terrific. Our future daycare bill just doubled but we were overwhelmed with happiness. Mark began juggling two of everything, one at each shoulder.
The emergency ultrasound a month later, that was the shocking one. The one that took apart that diner conversation, the bedroom count debates and the security we had that we could pull this all off. Complications set me straight to our specialist who later confirmed that we weren’t just expecting two babies, we were expecting three.
What followed was months of scared excitement, daycare times three minus salary calculations and hospital stays that left me hanging onto my very flexible job by the thinnest of threads. By the time our triplets were born (three months early with a long list of medical complications), my job was one of many things we had to let go. Our house soon followed.
I’ve thought a lot about that time as many struggle with job loss and financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic. Not being able to pay bills, especially for something as fundamental as your home, is awful. It takes a mental toll on you that affects you far more than you even realize.
If we had the services then that the Michigan State Housing Developmental Authority (MSHDA) is currently offering, we wouldn’t have spent years trying to overcome the financial strain of our medical crisis. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, two protections are available for anyone with a federally backed mortgage: a moratorium on foreclosures and mortgage forbearance.
These two options are huge; if you are in a place of financial strain, please contact your housing development authority. Ask about these two protections. The forbearance will temporarily stop your mortgage payments or reduce them to an amount you can afford. I can’t even tell you how much this would have helped us when we found ourselves unable to afford our home.
We all hate this pandemic, and the havoc it has wreaked. Still, I’m so glad that programs are slowly becoming available to help families glimpse some light at the end of the tunnel. As cases decrease– please for the love of everything can they continue to decrease– take advantage of all the help out there.
If you are in Michigan, contact MSHDA to find a housing counselor in your area. They can help you navigate your financial recovery process and find a path to keep you in your home. Counselors will even work with your lender or landlord to help negotiate a plan that works for you.
I wouldn’t wish financial hardship on anyone. The invisible toll it takes on your life for years to come can feel like a landslide. If you’re struggling to stay in your home or afford next month’s payment contact the MSHDA today. Let someone else help shoulder your burden.
Many are struggling with a financial crisis right now. Use the programs designed to give you a hand while you climb out. You will climb out. I promise. If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through everything life has thrown at you so far. You’ll make it through this too. One day at a time and maybe with a little help, you will.
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