Housing Council gets local grandmother back on her feet – The Batavian

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In order to protect the privacy of Marguerite and her family, her last name will not be published.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.”

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Local homeowners may qualify for Weatherization Assistance Program – rochesterfirst.com

Local homeowners may qualify for Weatherization Assistance Program

by: www.rochesterfirst.com

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) – Local homeowners who need help making their home more energy efficient can turn to a local organization called PathStone.

The organization was awarded a grant for $1.1 million in funding for its Weatherization Assistance Program.

The program helps eligible homeowners in suburban Monroe County and focuses on households with senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and households with children. A few of the services offered at no-cost include insulation, heating, and air sealing to reduce drafts.

This funding is available through March 2018 and PathStone is currently accepting applications. To apply for the Weatherization Assistance Program at PathStone, you can call: (585) 442-2030 ext. 202 or visit pathstoneenergyinfo.org.

Batavia woman’s experiences, strength inspire city officials working on zombie homes – www.thedailynewsonline.com

Batavia woman’s experiences, strength inspire city officials working on zombie homes

by: Jim Krencik

BATAVIA — With multiple generations of her family needing medical treatment, a Batavia woman spent every penny she had to her name to care for them.

Speaking to city officials Monday, Marguerite requested her last name not be publicized. Despite that privacy, she has been open to sharing with anyone the repeated challenges she faced and the help she received in the face of another personal upheaval.

Foreclosure.

Marguerite was fully two years behind on her mortgage when her lender indicated in 2013 that they were ready to foreclose on her home in the town of Batavia. She was already dealing with the financial and physical complications of neglecting her own needs for her family, but the notice struck at her dignity.

“My home was my sanctuary, my home was where I went to find all the peace and serenity I need,” she said. “It was my safeguard, it was my place to unwind, and lay on the grass with my grandchildren and look at the stars, the moon, the galaxy … the things that take you away from it all.”

Her mortgage lender’s notice also included a list that became another sanctuary. Marguerite said a recommendation to contact The Housing Council at Pathstone set in motion a relationship that saved her home as she moved between sources of turmoil that four years later are shaken off as tests of faith.

Sitting across the table, Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante and intern Lindsey Luft were overwhelmed by the adversity Marguerite faced. They are working to encourage more homeowners to pursue services like Pathstone’s and were both inspired and awed.

“It’s really inspired me to assure people that Pathstone is going to be a source of positivity for them, a source of strength, to help get them through a struggling situation in life,” Luft said.

The city has worked with community groups and churches to spread palm cards and fliers urging homeowners to use the no-cost, confidential services based out of The Housing Council at Pathstone’s Batavia office.

“Behind on your mortgage? We can help you,” the fliers say, with pledges to work with them on foreclosure prevention.

Marguerite said the impact was near-immediate for her.

It was a critical moment. She was out of work — her job in a hospital’s radiology department was eliminated after she went on an extended family medical leave in 2012 — and struggling with a series of permanent physical ailments. Her retirement and life insurance had been drained, and bills continued to mount despite a life of just the essentials.

“I’ve always been a strong, individual person, but I lost so much,” Marguerite said.

Within days, Pathstone had connected her with a pro-bono lawyer for her appearance in the foreclosure court, and the agency was assembling her financial records to show that she had not been wasteful. They directed her to assistance through the Expanded STAR tax exemption and social services, helping her to swallow her pride in accepting help.

Marguerite recalls shaking with anxiety as the court date arrived. The judge told it was OK, they were here to figure it out for her. Even the mortgage lender’s attorney explained they did not want to take her home.

“They kept true to that process … I wasn’t let down,” she said, a trial period of paying $300 a month toward the debt for three months, followed by a consolidated property tax, home loan and home insurance payment that was reduced soon after.

She urges people in her situation — Luft estimated more than 100 city residents are at least several months behind on their mortgages — to not give up. Her family and her church stepped up; as did the systems in place, but it was a personal journey.

“Be upfront, be honest, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Marguerite said. “There’s so much to say … I’m still in my house.”

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