The effect of the housing economy on a SHF

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It’s 2pm and Discovery Kid’s Diego is about to perform his last show of the day at Miami Dade’s Metro Zoo. However, there’s more than meets the eye with this Diego.
In 2003, Ms. Elizabeth Blanco was about to become Mrs. Gutierrez. Blanco’s dream of owning a home and having the loving husband all seemed within grasps.
Her wedding was beautiful, she got to wear a white dress and share one of the most glorious moments of her life with her father who is now diseased.
When she got back from her honeymoon a new life included a white fenced 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom town home in Miami’s Kendall area.
The Gutierrez’s, who met in High School, worked hard to maintain their middle class lifestyle. She worked as a secretary and he worked as call center supervisor.
As the years progress, the life that seemed to be grand, was crumbling. During 2006, Marco broke a bow he promised to keep and to hold; fidelity.
“I was stupid,” says Marco. “It was a stupid thing to do, but by that time I really had just fallen out of love with her.”
In February 2007, no longer Mrs. Gutierrez, Blanco decided to buy out Marco and keep the white fenced town home. “It’s one of the few good things that came out of this marriage,” says Blanco.
Living in a 3-2 house and a job as a secretary left Blanco with many bills to pay and not enough money.
Marco had gotten the home on a subprime mortgage and the payments were ballooning. Blanco went from sharing half of the mortgage to paying $1100 plus $400 association/maintenance fees.
Eli, as she is known, had to refinance her home and get a part time job at Best Buy during the week to make ends meet. She would work from 8 to 5 at her secretarial job and 5:30pm until closing at Best Buy during the week and from 8 to 4 on weekends. However, this was not enough. When Blanco refinanced her home, to buy out Marco, her payments went up by $200 due to the new property appraisal value of the home and her interest was now 10% from 8.25%
She pressed on making ends meet and adjusting to a life with very little perks.
“It’s funny and kind of sad when you order a burger and consider cheese a luxury,” Blanco states laughing.
In 2007, she got a new job at the University of Miami and a new roommate.
Mercedes Vasquez had just broken up her engagement to her fiancé and this gave Blanco some breathing room.
Meanwhile, Blanco thought about going back to school. “The good thing of where I work now is that they pay for my school. The only real expense is books,” says Blanco.
Early 2008, Blanco quit Best Buy and Mercedes got her life together and moved out leaving Blanco with a vacancy and an empty house.
Weeks later a friend of a friend was going through the process of a separation. Flor Mercado and her husband, Ricardo, had realized that they were growing apart and could not find a middle ground. They amicably decided that it would be better if she moved out since he lives in a military base.
“Eli is super nice and she had no drama, which is rare now-a-days,” says Mercado.
Last month Blanco decided to help a coworker who recently separated from his fiancé. Shawn Green, who works with Eli at U.M. was looking for a place to stay.
“Funny enough this place has turned into the Heart Break Hotel,” says Blanco.
“Some people take in cats or dogs, Eli takes in people with broken hearts,” says Shawn laughing.
Blanco, thought about selling the townhouse, “I will lose too much money if sell it. Trust me, I‘ve looked in that, though I think sometimes it’s way better to get this burden off my back.”
She also doesn’t pass too much blame on politicians. “In my case the newly attained single hood and pay scale has not helped my lifestyle. Politicians are politicians and there is level of used car salesman sportsmanship about it,” says Blanco.
Heber Delgado, a Research analyst and economic investigations project manager for Harvard and M.I.T, states that in the new scenario proposed by the government Blanco would see very little help if none at all.
Even with a life that looks at cheese a luxury, Blanco perceivers. “If you look at the negative aspects then you’ll drive yourself crazy,” says Blanco. “My life has had minor detours and bumps along the way, but its made me a better person.”
It’s 2p.m. on a Sunday and the show must go on. “The heat is what really gets to you,” says Elizabeth Blanco. Who works part-time as Diego on the weekends to make ends meet.


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