Monday, February 16, 2009

Portrait: Sweetwater, Tennessee

Two years ago in April my husband and I made the leap, we made the American Dream come true for our family. We bought our first home! We moved into a wonderful neighborhood filled with children that our kids could play with. A neighborhood that is composed of hard working people that look out for one another.

A year ago I lost my job. It wasn't much of an income but within months we felt the hit. We went through our savings quickly. My husbands company split, his income stayed the same but there were some downfalls. No more Christmas bonus. No more incentives. We missed the money terribly. We don't live above our means, we don't buy things that we don't need. Hell, I cant remember the last time I had a new outfit or a new pair of shoes. We have two young boys and a baby on the way, there is no frivolous in our vocabulary! Im not even thirty years old and it seems that we will not ever be able to be on our feet again after this.

This past Friday, we moved from OUR house. We are renters again. We lost our house to foreclosure and they will be auctioning it off in March. We were living the so called "American Dream" but nobody ever said to live this "dream" and be dirt poor! We couldn't imagine living in this house, paying way more than we could afford and all of us suffering for it. We took the steps of calling the "hope now" and all the other government programs out there.

The problem with these programs.. your mortgage company does NOT have to participate in them. So after a year long battle, we walked away. I have come to the realization that we are going to be ok and that house did not make us a family, but I feel like I let my kids down terribly.

We are not the only ones effected in our county. Our unemployment rate is over 11% for a very small county. Industrial plants are closing all around us. My cousin works for a major boat manufacturer, they have laid off twice in less than a year, now they work three weeks out of a month and draw unemployment for one week out of the month.

Our schools are suffering. They are cutting budgets and letting teachers go left and right. We have schools literally falling apart and no money to fix them.

People are stealing and breaking into homes. Our once small, safe town where "everyone knows your name" is turning into a place I am not so sure I want to be anymore, but where would we go? Everywhere is turning into the same place.

Sweetwater, Tennessee