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I need your help - I need your help - Peter Hentges Page 2

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February 27th, 2009

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12:03 pm - I need your help
Yes, you my friend.

It's so hard for me to write this, you have no idea.

I was let go from my job in July of 2008. I've had no work outside the home since then. I say "outside the home" because I am getting some money coming in from acting as a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) for Ericka, my partner of 20+ years. This has been enough to pay the utilities and phone, put food in the refrigerator, keep gas in the van and like that. It hasn't been enough, sadly, to pay the mortgage on top of that.

I received a letter from my mortgage company saying that they're referring my mortgage to their lawyers to begin foreclosure proceedings. Like so many others out there, I'm without a job and in danger of losing my home. I'm lucky that I'm able to keep the lights on, but it is looking grim all the same.

Ericka has multiple, chronic, life-altering diseases and I am her primary caregiver. Her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) makes it impossible to breathe without taking steroids every day. Her MS keeps her muscles weak and plagues her with nerve pain frequently. The steroids have caused diabetes that requires her to have an insulin pump. She is basically bed-ridden.

Despite her challenges, Ericka leads a full life and anyone who takes the time to get to know her can't help but love her. We have modified our home over the years we have lived here to make it as comfortable as possible for her to continue to live here.

You can see why losing this home would be a devastating blow for both of us. That's why I need your help.

I am confident that if I could begin paying my mortgage again, the bank would not want to continue with foreclosure proceedings. Not only do they normally lose money on foreclosing, but the housing market has depressed values even further. In addition, the modifications made to our home to accommodate Ericka make it undesirable for, and thus harder to sell to, anyone that doesn't have her needs.

So first and foremost, I need some work. At this point, I'm growing desperate and am willing to take nearly anything. My only requirement is that I need to bring home an additional $1,500 a month so that I can pay my mortgage. I'll add a link to my resume so you can get an idea of what I have experience doing, but I'm more than willing to look outside my field of expertise. (I used paycheck calculator to figure out that $16/hour for 30 hours a week will meet my needs.)

I'm particularly interested in work that I can do from home because that would allow me to contribute to Ericka's care while still paying the mortgage. As I said, however, I'm desperate and will consider any sort of work at this point.

So what can you do? Well, if you have a job opening, you can hire me. If you know of an opening in your company, you can recommend me. You can plead my case to your friends to see if they have or know of any openings. If none of that suits your fancy and you have the means, you can send me cash. (I don't expect you to do the latter, everyone I know is stretching things tight right now.) If nothing else, just link to this note. If the word is spread far enough I'm sure I'll have more than enough offers to choose from.

Thank you, friends. If there's something I can do for you, please let me know.

My resume (as MS Word document).

ETA: Since people asked, you can send PayPal to jbru@mac.com if you so desire.

(46 comments | Leave a comment)


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[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC)

For What it May or May Not Be Worth

try this.
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)

Re: For What it May or May Not Be Worth

Thanks! I'll give it a look.
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
Got the link from landerson and while I unfortunately have no leads for you (looking myself) I did see this article with a trick for stalling foreclosure.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'd seen that tactic before. I'm not sure I'll benefit from it as I believe that the bank that gave me my mortgage still holds it. It is worth a shot even if it delays things only a few days.
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
You may or may not have seen these already - my job search agents gave them to me this morning.

Web Developer/Designer, United Health Group - http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?sc_extcmp=JS_JobAlert_Title&ipath=PSSKGT13P&psa=1&Job_DID=J3H8236KPB1GBV3M9L1

Web Designer, Fingerhut Direct Marketing - http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?sc_extcmp=JS_JobAlert_Title&ipath=PSSKGT13P&psa=1&Job_DID=J7X81P6Z3V7QTBNYRHV
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Scott! I think I may have seen the UHG one, but I'll give them both a look.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
I hope to send some concrete help, i.e., $$, in the next few days.

Meanwhile, here's a potentially very useful tip I picked up a few months ago.

In the first part of this decade, banks were buying and selling mortgages like candy, and many banks did not keep records of the original mortgage documents. You have a right to demand those original documents if you are put into foreclosure. This doesn't keep them from foreclosing in the long run, but it can delay the actions by 3-6 months, or more.

If this seems like more than you can handle under stress, I would be glad to take it on long distance from the Bay Area to the extent possible by email and phone.

I'm thinking of you both.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughts and advice. The money will be a big help too, thanks in advance for whatever you can do.

I have read and heard about the "produce the note" movement. I may be not as fortunate in that regard, as I believe my mortgage is held by the bank that gave it to me (Wells Fargo). So I'll give it a try, but I don't know how much of a delay it will give me.
[User Picture]
Date:March 6th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
Hi, Peter.

I hadn't been reading your LJ, but Ctein told me your news at the Potlatch convention this weekend.

We who know you have always seen a creative person, so we know you'll come up with (or listen to advice about) some good options to attempt. And now we see a brave person who will ask for help when circumstances overwhelm. Good for you. Creativity and courage, of course, are no guarantee a good outcome, but they've got to help.

I just got two months notice on my job, so I will be joining the unemployed in May. But my household has another income (bigger than mine), so we will be OK.

Here's a point that is perhaps selfish of me -- or perhaps just creative collaboration. In your comments you mentioned that you are more of an IA than a site "designer". I've been doing the visual (graphics, UI) side of web sites professionally since 1995 (http://www.hand2mouse.com). Don't turn away projects that would need you plus a designer; there may be projects we could collaborate on.
[User Picture]
Date:March 6th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
Thanks, Nancy! I'll keep you in mind should I find any "me + a designer" gigs coming my way!
[User Picture]
Date:March 7th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
Coming to your journal via marydell's LJ. I'll second the "food stamps" comment and the local media suggestion.

Also, since you have someone disabled in your home, you may be able to get medicaid/medicare (if she doesn't already have it). Look into "TANF" as well (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) it's a loan, not a gift, but it pays back very slowly and can give you either monthly income or a one time loan that may help stave off the foreclosure while you look for solutions. Basically, go to your local assistance place (ours in Texas is "Department of Human Services" but I don't know what it would be where you are) and tell them what is going on, they will know what programs you should apply for.

Meanwhile, call the bank and ask what you can do to work with them. I failed to do that when I faced disability inspired foreclosure back in 2002/2003 and by the time I found a solution, they were far enough along in the paperwork they refused to stop, so call soon. The sooner they start working WITH you, the less money they will have put into the foreclosure proceedings and the more willing they will be to stall or stop.

Meanwhile, it won't help much (my income is $650 a month so I can't help a whole lot) but I'll send some money through paypal. I think you will be surprised how many people will send a bit here and there.

Several people in my area have been holding "I'm disabled (or my spouse is) please help" garage sales listed on Craigslist. They literally let people know that is what they are fund-raising for. It's another form of networking and I know at least one of them (that I conversed with via email) had a lot of people come to the garage sale, and most of them not try to bargain down prices, and several who stopped by just to donate to the cause, so it's worth a shot.

All of it requires swallowing your pride, but it seems you are brave enough to do that, so ask, ask, ask, and keep asking. People will often go out of their way to help when someone is brave enough to speak up about their needs. It continually surprises and pleases me to see it.

Good luck to you and Ericka both.
[User Picture]
Date:March 7th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
I'll echo several of the comments above. The two most important things to do right away are:

1. Contact the county. Call the Health, Housing and Social Services department. Give them the entire rundown of all of the difficulties you're dealing with and ask which they can offer help with. Hennepin county currently has a seminar at a few branch libraries that give you info on dealing with impending foreclosure and how to avoid it The Employment and Volunteering dept. can help in your job search. County libraries also have job info and other resources available. The county is likely to have some assistance in caregiving on a part-time basis for Ericka, so you can go to job interviews or have time to do other job search activities. There are a lot of different programs available that you might qualify for, including food stamps, emergency financial assistance, medical coverage at reduced rates ( Minnesota Care) or no premium at all ( Medical Assistance, General Assistance Medical Care). Most programs have monthly income and total asset limits, so you'll need to have those figures available. What constitutes "assets" varies by program. Many won't count a home or a car below a certain retail value as an asset. Some might exempt retirement funds that would require you to pay a penalty if you withdraw from them. Most exclude personal effects , furniture and items necessary to your career from the asset calculation. It's probably best to fill out an application for any program you might even remotely have a chance of qualifying for.

2. Contact your bank immediately and find out if they hold the paper on your mortgage or if they sold the loan and are merely acting as a servicing agent for another company. Find out who to talk to at whichever company now owns the loan. Suggest options to foreclosure them and try to talk to them primarily in relation to their needs rather than yours - ie. explain how letting you stay in the house and continue making some payment is more advantageous to them financially than foreclosing and having an empty house sit there vacant; subject to neglect and vandalism; perhaps for moths or even a year or more; or auctioning off the house at an almost certain substantial loss. It would be to their advantage to have you living there, caring for and maintaining the property; with the very real prospect of you being able to resume making full payments in the near future. Talk renegotiating the loan ( longer term, lower interest rate or both); or inserting a provision allowing you to pay interest only for a year or two ( I assume that you have some reasonable equity built up by now, so that the current amortization of the loan would give you a significantly lower principal to interest ratio) , then resuming principal and interest payments at a fixed future date. Another option, if foreclosure is unavoidable; might be to ask them to rent the home back to you on a month to month basis at an affordable rate. The advantage to them is, as above, that they'd have income coming in and the house occupied and maintained, while they were trying to sell it. If you're really lucky, you might be able to talk them into giving you first right to buy it for some period of time after the statutory redemption period expires.

The most important thing to do is start negotiating with them before they turn your case over to the foreclosure department. That department's focus is to get collateral back. The loan department's focus is to bring revenue in. Keep their mind-sets in your mind as you talk with them.

Please see part 2 to follow.
[User Picture]
Date:March 7th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)

Part 2

I always run up against LJ's character limit when I get on a roll. : )

Some possibilities that come to mind:

* Write "how to" articles that give the basics of various subjects of interest to people with little computer savvy. " Beyond Anti-Virus -- How to protect your computer from online threats at no cost". ( stuff new home users don't think of like user accounts vs. running only an administrator account; turning off file sharing, etc.); "How to Create an Effective Web Page for Your Home Based Business" ( Give enough information to accomplish the task but also whet their appetites for additional features they can incorporate - with your paid professional help - once their business gets off the ground. A lot of people are likely to be trying to sell items online from a home business if the current job trends continue.)

I'm sure you can come up with plenty more. Think about what advice you can supply in layman's terms that people might need; not only about computers but any subjects you're well versed in ( recipes; make your own lamp ; build a bird feeder from materials you have around the house ). Set up a website to sell your materials as e-booklets for a few dollars each. Encrypt the e-booklets and sell the key online using PayPal.

* Garage sales can provide a small but quick income boost. Find out if there are any restrictive local ordinances regarding when and how often you can have a sale. Do you need a permit? Are there sign o other display restrictions ( no vinyl flags, no merchandise in the driveway and such). The ideal situation is no restrictions at all. You begin with a sale of what you have. Use the money from that to buy some items at wholesale for future sales ( I did a decent job with photo albums and screwdriver sets. Displayed properly, you can sell them regularly for months). I knew a guy who started that way and after a while, was having a garage sale every weekend - even in winter. He even had pegboard displays mounted on casters he built, that could be stacked against one wall in his garage and set up like a store on the weekend in less than half an hour.

*Teach what you know at local colleges. As more and more people need job retraining, more colleges will be offering both day and night courses in a variety of computer skills. Find out what's likely to be needed and see if you can teach that material. If a college isn't offering a course you can teach already, suggest it to them.

*Along those same lines, but of a more immediate nature; contact local elementary, Jr high and high schools; and ask to be added to their substitute teacher lists. This may not produce more than an occasional day's work, but it's something. ( personal note: I tried this once but it just didn't sit well with me. I've known others who did well and after a few weeks were being called three or four days a week).

* Look into Civil Service jobs. The government will be hiring hundreds of thousands of new employees to implement and manage the various stimulus programs. I'm guessing that someone of your skills and experience would be at the top of their list for setting up and maintaining the systems they need to administer those programs.


If you haven't already looked into it, does she qualify for disability payments under Social Security? If not, are there any other federal or state programs that might provide income or assistance of other kinds?

Contact the companies that manufacture the steroids and other medications she takes. Several companies have programs to provide free medications and supplies ( diabetic supplies included) to people who can't afford them. Also see if organizations like ADA can help steer you to other programs that can reduce or eliminate some of your out of pocket medical expenses.

Talk with her doctors about alternate medications or the possibility of her joining a group doing medical study trials. Some of those provide free medication, regular medical monitoring, and also offer cash payment for participating. Just become well informed regarding any additional medical risks she might encounter.

I hope some of this is helpful. Let me know if you'd like to discuss any of these ideas further.
[User Picture]
Date:March 7th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
I forwarded your resume to a couple of friends who host and run web sites for a living.
Date:March 9th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
I don't know you, but I'm quite close to broke right now, also job hunting because my job ends in March, bills piling up all over the place. I'm having trouble writing my resume and I wound up on this page because I saw elisem's post about your situation.

So. I'm borrowing the design of your resume that you bravely put on your LJ at the end of this very courageous post. And for that, I will donate to your PayPal fund. :)
Date:March 17th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)

possible employment

You'd be perfect verging on totally overqualified for several positions at the company at which my husband works. You have to go to the site (http://www.infinitecampus.com/) and fill out an online application that has the option to attach your lovely resume. The actual campus is in Blaine, so an easy drive up 35W against traffic. Best of luck!
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)

Re: possible employment

Thanks for the tip! I'll have a look!
[User Picture]
Date:March 19th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
This is a less skilled job than you've done, but I did something similar to it for a while and it's something you can do from home and is, I think, in the range of what you're looking for (I was paid $1 less than you're looking for an hour). If could supplement other work, for sure.

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