Sunday, November 09, 2008

Would you like to help Veronica get her hot water heater fixed?

Greeting Friends and Family,

A couple years ago several of you contributed money to help me help other people who are in need. I have exhausted all money in this fund and have been keeping it going with my own contributions. If you contributed when I first set up this fund, I am writing to see if you would like to contribute again. If this is the first time I have asked you or if you are reading this on my blog and you feel led to help, I would appreciate it.

Right now I am trying to raise money to help Veronica H___. Every single penny of the money you contribute goes to the person who needs it. There is no administrative cost. About three years ago, I was instrumental in helping put Veronica in a home of her own. Veronica and her two lovely young daughters were living in a public housing project here in Nashville. The apartment she lived in backed up to a row of apartments where just a few weeks before she moved out a young girl was killed when a stay bullet penetrated the wall of the apartment. The young girl who was killed was not a resident of public housing but had went home from school with a class mate and was visiting. A drug deal gone bad resulted in a shoot out and the visiting young girl was killed by a stray bullet.

This was the environment that Veronica H and her daughters lived in. Veronica’s only income is SSDI. Veronica surfers from bi-polar disorder and can not work. Veronica was able to get her home through a grant provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. We have had this grant program for three years and have put nine families in homes through this program. The FHLB of Cincinnati provides the money to Pinnacle Bank. My employer, The Woodbine Community Organization, is the non-profit partner with Pinnacle Bank in administering this grant.

This grant program is one of those niche grant programs and is only for people with mental illness. Under this grant, the homeowner is awarded $36,000 toward the purchase of a home. The client must qualify for a first mortgage. They must meet standard underwriting guidelines for housing affordability, debt affordability and credit. The financing must be a 30 year fixed-rate loan and the interest rate must not exceed current FHA rates. Clients enroll in a Homebuyers Club and must attend class for once a month for a year prior to being eligible for the grant.

In the Homebuyers Club the client learns improved money management skills and must repair their credit and save money to contribute at least 1% of the homes value as a down payment. During the time Veronica was a member of the Homebuyers Club, I taught the class.
Veronica would catch a bus to get to the Homebuyers Club and bring her daughters with her. The trip involved a bus transfer. By the time the class was over, the connecting bus was no longer running so I began taking her home. It was only about three miles out of my way, so I did not mind doing it. Over time I got to know Veronica and her daughters.

For those of you have never been to a housing project, it can be another world. One time, I took her home and as I pulled into her street it was like pulling into a war zone. People were running for cover and a police helicopter was circling overhead. There had been another shoot-out. Veronica was kind of nonchalant about it and said there was always something going on.

Veronica was able to qualify for a $40,000 first mortgage, the house payment equaling 32% of her monthly income. She was able to buy a three-bedroom, one-bath brick home in a modest but quite neighborhood. The home was only two blocks form a bus line and she was tingled to death. Her daughters are doing well in school and they attend a local church. Veronica has not been late on a house payment one single time since she moved in. There have been times when her phone was disconnected, but she always pays her house payment.

This grant has made all the difference in the world in Veronica’s life and the life of her children. The problem is that after she pays her house payment and utility bills, and normal living expenses, there is nothing left over for emergencies.

Veronica called me last Wednesday and told me that her hot water heater was leaking and her bathroom sink was stopped up and her washing machine had broken. She has been washing clothes by hand, and I told her she may just have to do that for a while but that I would see that we got the sink unstopped and see if I could raise the money to help her repair the water heather.

I had my friend Mark Thompson, a professional handy man, go take a look at it and see what it would cost to fix the water heater. The water heater must be replaced and will cost $550. If no one else contributes, I will pay for the water heater and Mark will provide the labor for free. However, Veronica is only one of the people that I help in this way.

I have established a fund to help people like Veronica. The fund I have created has been used on other occasions to keep families from losing their home. Those who know me know that I am frugal. I am only going to give money to those who really need it. I am not going to give money to those who are trifling. I am not going to simply subsidize one’s poor choices. I am not going to give money to a lost cause. If giving money to someone simply delays a foreclosure by a month there is no point, but if a small amount of money can keep a family form losing their home and being homeless, I try to do it. The decision of who to help is mine. If you choose to contribute, you can be assured the money will not be wasted or spent frivolously. If you would like to be part of helping Veronica get her water heater repaired and help others like Veronica who are in dire circumstance, I would welcome your contribution.

If you would like to contribute please make your check payable to “The Woodbine Community Organization”. Be sure and write on the check, “Rod Williams Fund”. Mail it to WCO, 222 Oriel Ave, Nashville, TN, 37210. On the outside of the envelope write “Attention Rod Williams.”

WCO is a 501(C) 3 organization. Any contribution you make will be tax deductible. Thank you and God bless you.

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