From time to time, I try to give a report on the progress or other issues at Sunset Village.
This letter comes at a time when quite a few more people like me are approaching the proverbial “end of the rope.”
There has been a lot of rancor and divisiveness on television lately. Invariably, poor people and working class people are mischaracterized as being in perpetual need of a handout or demanding an end to financial inequity, etc.
My experience has been that the residents of Sunset Village are living through some of the worst of not only financial inequality but of the shear brutality of the popular business models and regulative laws.
In my case, I deliberately purchased my house making certain that my housing costs didn’t exceed a third of my income. My reasoning was that if a bank used this formula to protect itself from writing bad loans, it must be a good idea?
Admittedly, I am not an economist. The truth is that my wife and I barely made it through high school. We opted to get married young and raise a family. Absent any formal education, I relied upon the business model banks use and upon governmental regulation as a form of protection. Thus far, these seem to have worked wonders for all parties except the consumer in the Sunset Village/Capital First debacle.
Prior to filing for bankruptcy protection, the previous owner had worked out an elaborate scheme of limited liability corporations, family trusts, REIT’s and various other protective entities available only to the wealthy. As the process worked its way through the court system, things that were already in bad shape began to deteriorate more rapidly.
As the community entered receivership nearly a year ago, our lot rent went from $729.00 per month to $954.00 per month because new home rebates were eliminated. Despite the state law that caps rental increases, and despite the fact that these were part of our legally binding contracts. But, we were told it didn’t apply in this case.
At the same time, the roads, water system and other elements we’re legally entitled to by contract are continually being patched together just enough to get by. So the same outages occur and the same turbid water is ruining appliances and clothes, etc.
So there are numerous ancillary costs to living here, not the least of which is purchasing water because our water isn’t safe to drink. For most of us, our mortgage, lot fee’s and other costs now make our housing exceed fifty percent of our gross incomes. Combine that with the prices of everything rising rapidly and it explains why almost every week another family decides to walk away from Sunset Village.
We are essentially providing a money making asset to the loan originator that the previous owner was obligated to. It’s the poorest victims paying to insure the wealthiest victim’s investment.
There is a continual effort through various charitable organizations to help the residents purchase the park as a co-op. But the same legal system makes us subsidize the creditor as they search out a better offer than our own, making the process and financial strain draw out even longer.
Despite the popular notion that we (less affluent) all just want a handout or wake up every day looking for a freebie, we actually work.
I work a manual labor job 70+ hours per week 6-7 days and have a part time job cleaning offices three nights a week besides. That’s not the fault of the wealthy; it’s my fault for not getting an education. But you can certainly understand where the animus for corporate greed comes from when you see the poor working families given a choice between insuring a large bank against loan losses we had nothing to do with negotiating to the point that we lose our homes.
So we insure them, while they ensure us. But to insure means to provide indemnification whereas ensure means we’re free to continue to hope for the best while paying for the most.
Chris Iosello, Sunset Village Resident