The Big Story Blog

Your neighbors' stories about mortgage struggles

Posted at 2:10 PM on October 25, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

We talk a lot of data here. We dig numbers and what they tell us. But when it come to mortgage problems in Minnesota, statistics can't give you a measure of pain.

We've been talking for months to Minnesotans in the MPR News Public Insight Network about crumbling housing values, owing more on your house than it's worth and the struggle of some to navigate the help offered by banks or the feds.

We reached out again to the network to see if we could get some folks to share more stories and we got a big response. We're going to feature a couple of posts this afternoon based on the stories people have shared. The basic question we asked: Has your mortgage or home value caused you any problems in the past five years?

Click on the map icons below to read the stories of folks who answered yes to that question and also answered our second question: What, if anything, should the government do to help people who owe more on their mortgages than their property is worth?

View Mortgage problems in Minnesota in a full screen map

Here's a sampling of what we heard:

Home values, having plummeted, has delayed or eliminated retirement Unfortunately, we are among the other poor middle class slobs who bought a starter home, stayed in it and paid off our mortgage thus disqualifying us for the inevitable Gov. handout. Why, oh why didn't we keep up with the Jones, buy a McMansion and have other tax payers pay our corrupt banking system and Gov. for it. -- Fred Walk, Richfield
(Obama's new initiative) is too little too late. After being laid off in October 2009, we entered the HARP modification program and paid the 'trial period payment' for seven months. At that point we were told we don't qualify and were sent a bill for $4,500 (the total difference between the lower and regular payments) that was due in two weeks to get the loan current. I had gotten a full-time job a couple months prior, but we couldn't pay that amount.

We stopped paying any payments last October, and moved into a rental home this September. Bank of America will own our home in January 2012. The HARP program offered some hope of help, but ultimately we had the door slammed shut on us and lost our home because of it.

Instead of TARP bills to help the banks, roll out a large bill to forgive a portion of the principal on underwater mortgages. -- Andy Feig, Northfield

I have so far been able to make house payments but not for much longer, my kids want food, its either one or the other... not both. Kids don't seem to understand the fix we're in. They want cellphones, games, school trips, braces, prom dresses... things that put us underwater

Redo the whole mortgage system. -- Betty Vandenheuvel, Isanti


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.