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The Housing Market Mess … One Family’s Story

I was listening to The Story on NC Public Radio Wednesday afternoon (which by the way is an outstanding show) and the first segment focused on the experience of Shawn Howell and his family. Shawn, who lives in Kentucky with his wife and four children,  was deployed to Iraq shortly after the family purchased their dream home.

Long story short – Shawn returned to the US after serving his country only to find out the mortgage was re-setting and as a result of this and other debts, the family would not be able to keep up with the payments. As he tells it, repeated calls to the bank that set up the loan yielded no results. The Powells weren’t looking for debt forgiveness or an outright loan renegotiation, but wanted to work with the bank to restructure the loan payments for a while until the family could get on top of things.

All these pleas were to no avail, and the family ended up losing their dream home. Today, the Powells live in a small mobile home – and two of the children have had to move in with Shawn’s first wife. 

A huge thread in Shawn’s story is that no one would help – because no one at the bank was empowered to help. And so it goes.

I’ve heard so many stories about how credit unions have helped people when they were down – and how when these calls came in, credit union staffers have looked hard for a way to help … not for a way off the phone line.

As more stories like Shawn’s unfold, hopefully we’re all taking the time to listen, and empowering people with the tools to help them solve their own problems. It’s a clear point of differentiation for credit unions, especially now that the economy is slowing.

With so many having already lost or at risk of losing their homes, Shawn’s story is unfortunately all-too-familiar. However, you do get a sense for the unique struggles that military families go though.


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