Housing Council gets local grandmother back on her feet
by: Maria Pericozzi
Marguerite bought her house in Batavia when her first granddaughter was born, to be close to her family and job, but never expected to find herself struggling to keep her house.
“Life happened,” Marguerite said.
Through the Housing Council at Pathstone, one of New York State’s largest comprehensive housing counseling agencies, she was able to get back on her feet.
In order to protect the privacy of Marguerite and her family, her last name will not be published.
Her troubles started when she had family members in four different locations who were sick. She spent the last five years helping various family members with their financial troubles, as well as being a caregiver and working at the United Memorial Medical Center.
“Things happen in life,” Marguerite said. “There’s always a reason behind it somewhere. Sometimes we find out and sometimes we don’t.”
Marguerite remembers going at least four days without eating or sleeping, running on adrenaline when her husband was sick. For nine months, she went through the schedule of sleeping for a couple hours a night, then going back to see her husband.
It didn’t take long before she stopped caring for herself and in July of 2012, she physically broke down. She took a medical leave of absence, and shortly after that, her job at United Memorial Medical Center was eliminated.
Prior to her job being eliminated, she had taken $13,000 out of her retirement fund and cashed in two life insurance policies, in an attempt to support herself and other family members.
She had no income, was unable to work, and therefore was unable to make mortgage payments. She said she did everything she could before she decided to get the help she needed.
According to Pathstone’s website, the nonprofit organization provides landlord education, foreclosure prevention, pre-purchase counseling, emergency housing services and fair housing education. The Housing Council is located at 75 College Ave. in Rochester.
When Marguerite was in trouble with the mortgage company, they recommended the Housing Council.
The Housing Council was incredibly supportive for her as she went through the difficult time. When Marguerite was unable to handle stress due to her physical condition, a lawyer was provided for her through the Housing Council, to represent her in court. Between the Housing Council and her lawyer, she was given the assistance she needed so she would not lose her house.
“There was always such good communication between the Housing Council and the mortgage company,” Marguerite said.
Marguerite said the Housing Council was always very understanding and extremely helpful.
“There were times when I just couldn’t focus enough to handle it myself,” Marguerite said. “Whatever I wouldn’t be able to do, they did for me.”
The Housing Council was also able to assist Marguerite in lower her mortgage interest rate.
Marguerite said this process took away some of her worries about the bank foreclosing on her property.
“I was able to walk away with my dignity and pride,” Marguerite said. “When you’re going through so much, it’s an awful feeling to know that out of your love and dedication for your family, that you’ve made yourself sick and that I might lose everything.”
According to the Housing Council at Pathstone’s website, they helped 1,100 households avoid foreclosure last year.
For Marguerite, her home was the place that allowed her to forget everything that was going on and take a break.
“Sometimes good people find themselves in bad situations,” Marguerite said. “Mine was loved ones getting ready to pass away. I can’t imagine losing them and losing my house at the same time. The Housing Council prevented that from happening.”
Marguerite said she thinks this happened to her so she could become an advocate.
“That kind of loyalty and dedication to the community or to a person is fantastic,” Marguerite said. “If I didn’t have them doing that for me…I wasn’t physically or mentally able to do it myself.”