Ten years ago this week, the collapse of Lehman Brothers marked the beginning of a financial crisis that destroyed millions of Americans’ lives.
Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd followed Milo and Lin White as they struggled to avoid foreclosure on their home in Phoenix, Arizona, a decade ago. He catches up with them to see how they’re doing now.
On their foreclosure, and where they are now financially
Lin White: “Hearing the story kind of tugged at my heart strings a little. But we’re much better off. We’re in a better place than we were the last time we spoke. Over the past nine to 10 years since the housing crisis, there’s been so much that has happened: We lost our home in Arizona even after trying our best to do the right thing, but in the end, like so many other families, we were foreclosed upon, and bankruptcy was inevitable.
Milo White: “In the end, they had foreclosed rather than taking one of the short sales that we had. They foreclosed, and then they sold the home for $47,000 less than the foreclosures, so they ended up coming to us for the difference, plus that $47,000 that was really their fault. So, in the end, faced with 300-plus thousand dollars, there’s just no way that in our lifetimes we would ever pay that off, so we ended up kind of forced into bankruptcy.
“I think we’re doing OK. We live paycheck to paycheck. I’m working for the same company that laid me off back in 2009, but my salary is a little bit under 70 percent of what it was before, so it’s a little harder to make ends meet.
“I think, truthfully, we’re grateful. We feel like we’ve got it better than many, but … we will never own a home again. We probably will not have a very comfortable retirement. Both of us will work as long as we can. I think I’ll be working till age 70 to maximize Social Security.”
On not being able to have the retirement they hoped for
LW: “We’re just hoping that we can keep our good health, because we will be working into our older age. I don’t see us retiring and traveling like the dream of most retirees. You know, it just wiped us out.”
On how their children dealt with the family’s foreclosure, and how they’re doing now
MW: “The kids are great. They all have recovered very nicely. They’re all doing fantastically really.
“I think that they all lost the sense of home really, a place that you can call home that you can go home to. I think Makaley really suffered the most, in that she was between her sophomore and junior year in high school, and we moved to Oregon and took her with us, and she really struggled in Oregon. She finished her high school in Tucson, living with her brothers, who were both going to school there. But she was still in high school and actually working to pay her rent, because the bankruptcy judge would not allow us to give her money.”
On how they recovered after the financial crisis
LW: “I feel like Milo and I are some of the lucky few, and we’re truly blessed, because we have family that was capable and willing to help us. We were able to choose a home, that they are the owners of, but we rent from them at an under-market cost.
MW: “This is my sister and our brother-in-law, who helped us to get into a rental home at really below the market. Otherwise, we would have really struggled to pay our rent.”