Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Seniors in Trouble



"Welcome to ForeclosureLand (map at randysright.wordpress.com), and yahoo images. Florida is among the worst, and especially around the Tampa Bay area. This on top of the Republicans uncompromising insistence on cuts to Social Security, medicare and aid for the disabled and unemployed. Seniors are in trouble.

50 million seniors have a huge stake in the debt ceiling debates, if they can be called that. Once again, cuts in Social Security and Medicare are on the agenda. I know he’s under tremendous pressure, but President Obama is forced to consider them a valid compromise issue. Pushed to the wall. What a sad state of affairs.

Seniors, those of us who live on the Social Security benefits we worked for all of our lives, not wealthy seniors but normal, hardworking, middle-class Americans, are angry and concerned. We’ve had no increases in Social Security in two years and the cost of everything continues to go up, up, up. My nice little community just passed a school levy and raised water rates, so apartment owners have passed on the increases to renters. My rent increased by $10. It’s not a lot, but I’ve only lived here a few months.

To make matters worse, millions of seniors like me own homes whose values have greatly depreciated in the last 5 years. I bought my condo in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2005 for $172,000, put down $35,000, and it’s now worth about $80,000. I still owe $129,000 on my mortgage. My condo, a pretty one-bedroom, is in a great location, in thriving downtown St. Pete, near the Bay, a really beautiful part of Florida. I don’t know what to do.

Should I foreclose, like most other owners in my condo unit? These foreclosures, by the way, have made the market and costs that much worse for the few of us remaining. In short, my Florida home is no longer an asset; it’s an albatross. From a financial point of view, it’s a loss, and I should dump it.

But I’m one of those Americans who hate to consider foreclosure. I hang on, faithfully putting mortgage payments down a black hole. I’m renting the condo since I moved up North to Ohio, but the monthly rent is far below my monthly mortgage payment and Condo maintenance fee, another outcome of the housing crash.

Why can’t seniors in this position get some assistance from banks and the government? Right now, there is no incentive to continue this way, putting money down the drain. There is no financial incentive whatsoever NOT to foreclose.

What’s a senior to do? Debt ceiling and debt reduction talks rise and fall like high-risk stocks. The cuts Obama has agreed to are not enough for the Republicans in Congress. The president is gloomy, and so am I. It’s times like these that make me feel like a Ukrainian, pessimistic and doubtful that the future will get any better. I don't think I'll feel better when a debt deal comes through either.

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