Why I’m Voting for President Obama in November

What I’m about to share is perhaps the most personal blog post I’ve ever written. It’s also consistent with my commitment to being ‘purposefully public’ rather than ‘protectively private.‘ Let me start by creating a bit of context with this quote:

We have for 4-5 decades strayed in the direction of economic and social policies that have taken the great resources of wealth of the ‘public purse’ and sucked it like a vacuum cleaner into the hands of the very few…and that’s a situation that needs to be fixed.” Marianne Williamson speaking in Berkley CA, Nov. 2011

In 2005 and 2006 we invested in two rental properties with the intention that as they grew in value from our sweat equity and appreciation we’d be able to sell them as a way to help fund our daughter’s college education. These were legitimate real estate investments — not speculative flipping of property. We purchased two foreclosed properties and then invested additional monies and sweat equity to make them good rental properties. Our mantra for these projects of Purposeful Properties was “turning houses into homes.”  Everything was going along fine until early 2008.

In the spring and summer of 2008 as a consequence of the worldwide economic downturn our tenants in both properties lost their jobs at the same time, and were unable to pay their rent for several months. During that time, we continued to meet the mortgage payments using our rapidly dwindling savings as we tried to work with the tenants.

However, when those savings were depleted, we were unable to pay the mortgages on the two properties as well as on our own family residence where we’ve lived in since 1994.  It was a difficult time for many including ourselves. However, we persevered. We proceeded to dig ourselves out of the hole, including turning in our credit cards and entering into a credit card debt consolidation program with the Consumer Credit Counseling.

We sought and received loan modifications on the two investment properties. During this time the original tenants of both properties who were several months behind in their rent were evicted, owing us approximately $6,500 (which as of this writing, we have yet to collect.) After learning about the IRS’s First Time Home Owners plan to help first time home owners purchase their first home with an $8,000 tax credit, we found a young woman and a young family who were delighted to be able to purchase the two houses in this way.

We then proceeded to request a loan modification on our own home in an effort to adjust the payment to be in line with what we could afford, so that we could also catch up on the 3 months of payments we were past due on.  This is where we hit a stonewall in the form of Chase, the bank who now had our mortgage (it had been sold and resold several times).

We started filing the paper work for the loan modification in Dec. 2008. Over the course of the next two years we faxed in hundreds of pages of documentation per Chase’s requests. Each time we sent in the requested documentation, we wouldn’t hear from them for months, despite regular calls by us to request progress reports. Two or three months later, they would request new documentation of our personal and business finances be sent to them because the original papers we had sent in were out of date. This cycle continued over the next two years. During that time we continued to pay our monthly mortgage to them, although we were not in a position to catch up on the past due payments.

The long and short of it, we applied two different times from a loan modification for our residence and were declined both times with no explanation as to why. All we were told each time was that we should reapply.
So, we prayed about it and discussed it at length and finally decided to exercise a bit more purposeful patience and persistence. We applied for a third time. Finally, after additional months of sending in paper work and resubmitting paperwork, we were notified by Chase that we qualified for a 3-month trial payment period that, once completed, would lead to a Making Homes Avoidable loan modification.  This is a government sponsored program (see http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov) and will help us recover from the effects of the economic turmoil that started in 2008.

The First Time Home Owner’s Tax Credit and the Making Homes Avoidable loan modification programs have made a tremendous difference in helping us through this most turbulent times. The Pell Grant Program that has been fortified and strengthened in the past few years (in part by eliminating the middle man of the banks) has also helped our daughter continue her college education.

Without these governmental programs, I don’t know where we’d be, but I do know we’d be in much worse shape than we are now. I’m not someone who’s looking for a handout, but an occasional helping hand has sure been appreciated.  And that’s why I’m voting for President Obama to be re-elected.

I’m sharing this in the spirit of it being of service. I also thought some of my Facebook friends and others might want to know why I’m voting for President Obama in November.