Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Long time, no type. Surprise.

It's been a while since I posted. But things are moving along. So in repair news: We got the roof replaced!!! Woo-hoo! They did the roof tiles, the decking (plywood) for the entire roof, and the little roofs over the bay window and front door. It took them maybe 3.5 days in October and cost ~12K. Which is still 3K less than that other guy quoted me back in 2008.  So. Awesome. Thank you, Eyles Construction from Fitchburg, MA.

We've also replaced the messed up lights and faucet in the downstairs bathroom. It's a lot brighter in there, now. I hated those candle bulbs we had in there. The candelabra light fixtures looked nice, and seemed like a good idea when we put them in, but ugh. That just did not work out well. Plus old, sad-looking brass color didn't wear well and looked incredibly dated. Normally that wouldn't bother me. I don't mind all the honey colored wood that people on TV and in DIY blogs and forums are shrieking about. It's just wood. Maybe if it went with that beveled wood-edge countertop that looks like a cafeteria it would bother me. But we don't have that. Just the wood. Although the vanity in my bathroom is still in need of painting. I have to get around to that eventually, when it's warm enough to leave the windows open, but I'm not in pain.

Which, yeah. Pain. I've been in a fair amount. My back is getting worse again, and my shoulder isn't getting better, because PT sent me back to the doctor last month. But the doctor can't see me until the 11th of this month. So I'm on hold. I'm supposed to be doing my exercises and stretches, but it's hard. I've been stretching as much as I can, but strength building is harder. There's always somebody coming in or out of my door, and that's the only place I can attach the bands. And right now my back and hips hurt so bad that I am having to use the heating pad. It helps, but they still hurt. Sick of taking pain killers, though, and after surgery I'm not going to be able to have NSAIDs, anyway. Oh, yeah. I'm having weight loss surgery (gastric bypass) in April. Sick of being fat, and my high blood pressure qualifies me, even though my weight comes in a little too low. Anyway.

So we're on hold with the renovations and repairs until after Christmas, I think. I don't foresee myself getting out of pain and inspired to start working on the house, nor do I see myself having the money. Plus anything that involves getting a dumpster is going to have to wait until... summer, maybe? Can't do it in the winter. It fills with snow. Can't do it in the spring. Surgery. Ugh. Complicated. But I think we can get some stuff in after Christmas and before surgery. Possibly painting the stairs area. Haven't gotten to that, yet. And also possibly my room. I'm not going to feel like doing my room after surgery, so, I should probably do it beforehand. But that involves replacing parts of the ceiling drywall, which is not something I'm looking forward to at all. Ah well. Oh, and I really have to figure out how to catch up on the taxes, because that's not going anywhere. Gah.

So at some point when it's light out I'll see if I can get a decent photo or so of the new roof.  And I'll also try and get a couple of the faucet and lights downstairs. I need to add some wood or something behind the light fixtures, because they don't quite fit into the wall the way the old ones did. So either they need to be built up, or sunken down into the wall. I'm thinking decorative build up, personally. Easier.

Thanks to everyone who's helped, sent money, encouragement, thoughts, ideas, or whatever. Totally appreciated. You guys are the best.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

So it's time for dumpster rental. We need to get rid of as much junk as possible to make room for the workers to get in here, and to get ready for the fire inspection. Hopefully we can be ready for that by next week or so.

Anyway, we should be able to close on the new loan once we take care of that. Current estimate is closing by the end of the month. So yay! We have about $3K in back taxes to pay off, but I guess we don't have to come up with that immediately. Which is good, because we really need to put as much money as possible toward getting the cleanup and repairs done.

Thank you again, to everyone who has been able to help out so far. This has been a long process, and we're moving on to the next stage. Which, at least won't involve worrying about homelessness. So yay again!

And dang, never have a fire, especially if you're broke. Quit smoking, empty the dryer lint, and get rid of anything that might catch fire. Get fire extinguishers if you can afford them. Because even though we had a lot of insurance, this has been particularly hellacious. I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through this.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

So yesterday we ripped out the carpet on the stairs. One of the big ceiling leaks is over the stairs, and after the huge downpour happened last week, the carpet was soaked. We had another downpour a few days ago. So the carpet was just spongy and disgusting. Walking on it was literally like walking on a wet sponge. And yes, I do mean literally. With the water and the squishing.

And by the gods, there were so many staples and nails in that thing! We're still pulling them up. I grab the needle nose pliers and pull a few every time I walk past. Now all the disgusting carpet is on the front porch waiting for us to rent a dumpster. And the stairs are that awful pink color again. With the matching heart stencils. Joy.

I posted before and after photos on my fundraiser page.

Note the squishy puddles in the carpeting? This is after using the shop vac.

Ahh, back to the ugly original stairs we carpeted over in the first place. Covered with lead paint somewhere under there.

So now we have to figure out if we strip the lead, or if we encapsulate it. I'd rather have it just gone, but it's going to take $100 or so worth of Lead Out to do it. And then we still have to condition/stain or prime/paint. But none of that happens until after we get the roofer going. And that is going to wait until after closing.

Meanwhile, we've got to finish stripping the wallpaper, and consider what to do with the railing. It doesn't match anything, and as you can see in the before pic, it's missing a couple of balusters. I', thinking strip the bannister and stain it to match... something, and then replace the balusters with wrought iron. Right now we've got honey (oak?) colored doors and frames, and a solid mahogany front door stained with a cherry color. The doorstep is oak stained with the same cherry Minwax. And the railing is that dark walnut color. Blah.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

We may be coming to an agreement. Should know in the next day or so. But if we do re-buy the house, it's going to need a lot of repairs. I don't know if the Worcester County Rehab thing is still available to me or what.

So much stress.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I hate the things. I can't find anywhere to move to if we have to move. I have like no credit, so renting is not going to be an option, I don't think.

Monday, May 13, 2013

OK, Here Goes...

I have set up a GoFundMe page to help my family and I to avoid eviction and homelessness. We have an eviction date of June 1st 2013. We have until then to secure financing and the associated expenses so that we can stay in our home or to find somewhere to go. We have a lead on possible financing, with some money to put toward it. But there are so many extra expenses that keep cropping up, and we really need to be ready for anything.
My Story:
Some moments change your life forever. They sneak up behind you unnoticed, and steal from you the life that was, until that moment, all that you knew. We've all had them. One of my moments was in October of 2000. What started out as a typical evening, dinner, putting the kids to bed, planning a Halloween party, ended with my husband in prison, my family without an income, and my world shattered like so much glass around my bare feet. My husband of ten years had been sexually abusing our daughter. He went to prison for 12 years, leaving us with no income, and me with no degree, no job skills, social phobia, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a deep, black depression, having to care for my two children and their anxiety and PTSD on my own.
So for the next eight years, I paid the bills with money from SSI disability that my children and I received. My daughter struggled with OCD, ADD, and PTSD, and my son, despite visits to specialists in Boston at Children's Hospital and NEMC, could not get a specific diagnosis for his learning disability. But in late June of 2008, our clothes dryer caught fire, destroying PVC pipes and wiring, leaving us without power, telephone and water.
We spent the first few days with friends and family, and the next five months in a Super 8 motel. Our homeowners' insurance was through Liberty Mutual. Their policy is that the customer has to pay for everything up front, and then they will reimburse you for whatever you spend. Well, that strategy might work well for the typical middle class person, but for a low-income family without credit cards, it's unrealistic. We couldn't even pay for a night in the motel. Liberty Mutual advanced us a couple of hundred dollars, though, which worked at first.
But the longer we were there and unable to cook anything beyond microwaved food, the more difficult it was. I couldn't pay the regular bills, feed the family and pay the motel bill at the same time. The front desk clerk didn't speak much English, and even though the desk manager and I both asked him not to charge me until I told him that the reimbursement money from Liberty Mutual was in my debit account, he kept charging me anyway. The owner even explained it to him in his native Indian, but apparently he still didn't understand. So he ran up hundreds of dollars worth of overdraft fees on my account. By the time we left the motel, we had fallen so far behind on the mortgage that they were threatening foreclosure.
So over the next few months, we worked with the mortgage company on an adjustment. Everything seemed to be going well, until they would only accept a down payment through Western Union. My bank wouldn't allow a Western Union transfer that large unless I did it at the bank in person. So the guy on the phone at the mortgage company, Ocwen, told me to fax them the paperwork and send the money as soon as I could. I faxed the paperwork. But at this point, I was so emotionally and physically drained that I just couldn't get to the bank immediately, and I missed a deadline, which they'd never mentioned. They voided the adjustment and started a new one, but meanwhile they continued the foreclosure. So the foreclosure went through before the adjustment did, they auctioned the house, and MassHousing bought it. This was in April of 2010.
Through all of this, Liberty Mutual wouldn't cut a check for the repairs without Ocwen's name on it as an additional payee. And Ocwen insisted that in order to cash it, I would have to sign it over to them. So the check went uncashed and the repairs went undone. Since then, we've been trying to work with MassHousing to get a mortgage and get the repairs done. We were approved for a loan, but since the repairs hadn't been done, we couldn't get insurance, and we couldn't close. MassHousing didn't want to spend money to do repairs. Meanwhile, without maintenance, the main roof and the porch roof began to leak. The leak is so bad that it's damaging the interior at this point.
Last fall we managed to get a check without Ocwen's name on it, but by then the bank that had previously approved us had stopped that particular loan program, and had nothing to offer us. So we searched for alternative loans. We found the USDA Rural Housing Loan program, and we've been going through the application process. But apparently it's not going quickly enough for MassHousing. So they took us to court and had us sign an agreement to make an offer by the end of April or move out June 1st. We made an offer, but they rejected it out of hand because they didn't think we would get funding soon enough for their liking.
Meanwhile, my son has FINALLY gotten a solid diagnosis of Anxiety, ADHD, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). PPD-NOS is an autism spectrum disorder, and is sometimes referred to as “atypical autism” because it doesn't quite fit the diagnostic criteria for typical autism. Also, my daughter's best friend's family was evicted from their apartment, so she and her pets have been living with us.
So this is where we are now. Our options are limited. Since I do have a lead on a possible loan source, staying here might be a possibility after all. Otherwise, we need to find an apartment here, or possibly move out to the SF East Bay area, where we have family, and find an apartment there. Neither apartment situation is ideal, and both would likely require re-homing pets. My daughter has two cats, and her friend has two cats and a dog. And neither area is likely to have pet-friendly apartments large enough to fit all of us. Most of the apartments in my area are 1- and 2-bedroom units. Larger apartments tend to be in college towns, and generally out of our price range. I have been on the waiting list for Section 8 housing for two years, but the list is seven years long.
My daughter is also scheduled for surgery this Friday. She has needed a tonsillectomy for years, but her pediatricians refused to refer her for one. At this point, her tonsils are so bad that they bleed every day, and they fill with foul smelling tonsil stones.
As you can see, we are in an emergency situation, and are in desperate need to any kind of assistance anyone can offer.


So writing my story has been way more stressful than I thought. And it's taking longer than I thought. But hang in there. I'm almost done.