Stronger Together

May 21, 2020

What do you do when your ability to provide a home for your family is threatened? Jim and his family had to answer this question for themselves.

They’re a true Kansas City family. Although they now live in Johnson County, Jim grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. For over 60 years, his mom continued to live in KCK.

family photo with a father and mother, son, and grandmother
Jim and his wife Elisha, their son James, and Jim’s mother

Family First

When Jim and his wife Elisha bought a home in the early 2000s, they decided it was time for Jim’s mom to move in with them. “We [bought the home we did] because it had a ground-floor master in it, and my mom was in her 80s then […] We just thought it would be easier to keep an eye on her. For the next 12 years we [did] everything we could to keep her healthy and give her good quality of life.”

Jim says his desire to take care of his mom came partly from the example she had set for him. “I watched her do that for her sister,” he explained. “She would go to the nursing home to visit and care for her every day.”

With his mom at home, he and Elisha – along with his sister, brother and their families – were able to care for her while Jim continued his career managing sales professionals for an insurance firm.

a man and woman sitting in a car and smiling
Jim and his mom

“The job I had at the time was just perfect for that. I did about half travelling and half remote work. It got tough towards the end, though, when my mom got sick.” Because they were committed to taking care of her, Jim was unable to travel for his job, and soon, the firm let him go.

Jim’s mother continued to age peacefully and eventually passed away. “We couldn’t have asked for a better life-ending – she was 94 and went off joyfully,” he said. “I would do it all again – no regrets. The only problem is that now I’ve got to turn around and find another job at age 57.”

Meanwhile, it was getting difficult for Jim and Elisha to stay current on their mortgage. While they were busy caring for Jim’s mom, they had accrued less income and more medical expenses.

Jim says he’s always been very independent. “[When my mom got sick], we never applied for Medicaid. I never got on unemployment.” Despite doing what was best for him and his family, he found himself in a difficult situation. Through no fault of their own, they were soon facing foreclosure.

Finding a Way

Determined not to lose the home, Jim worked with the bank to find out what he could do. “I have 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, so I know a thing or two about contracts.” But even so, the process proved confusing and fruitless. “I was drained and felt sick for [months]. The increased stress level alone was miserable for me and Elisha to live through, and the way it wore out on our kids.”

Jim decided to try something else. He called Sharice Davids’ office, and talked with a young employee who very quickly learned what to do to refer Jim to CHWC. Jim scheduled an appointment with Lisandro, CHWC’s Bilingual Housing Counselor, to learn what more Jim could do to keep his family in their home.

“Lisandro was glad to get on the phone with me and the bank,” Jim said, “and you could tell that there was a difference when they were on the phone with both of us.” CHWC’s role in foreclosure prevention is to advise the homeowner on their best next steps and to help communicate with the bank to make sure the homeowner’s options are clear.

“It’s critical that people like me have places like yours that we can go to for objective, third-party advice. If it hadn’t been for some of Lisandro’s help, we probably would have lost [the home].”

Financial Freedom

Now, Jim and his family are not only still in their home, but he and his wife both have new jobs and are working towards getting current on their mortgage. During the coronavirus pandemic, while Jim’s son has had his hours at work cut, he and his girlfriend have been able to move back into the house and help pay some of the bills. “This has morphed into another blessing,” Jim said. “We’re stronger together than apart.”

Man, boy, and woman sitting in a car and smiling. The woman is holding a puppy.
Jim and his family out for a drive.

Jim wants homeowners facing foreclosure to know they’re not alone. “There are a lot of people that are in this boat. I don’t think that my situation’s unique in any way. People aren’t looking for a handout, but maybe just a fair shake.”

For Jim and his family, that meant having access to the advocacy and advice Lisandro was able to provide. “That was invaluable. If we had not had some kind of advocacy there and but for the Grace of God, we would have been homeless.”

The CHWC team is thankful to have the opportunity to be part of this family’s story, and to see that they’re well on their way back to thriving.

If you’re looking for help or just someone you can trust to point you in the right direction, don’t hesitate to reach out today to schedule a free one-on-one session with a member of our housing counseling team.

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