I have written previously about the plight of Alexandra Jarrin and many readers kindly opened their hearts and wallets to help her get through some very difficult times. If you are new to Alexandra’s story, please see, Alexandra Jarrin who organized 99er’s “Letters to Bernie” is nearly homeless and Update: 99er Alexandra Jarrin is Thankful, Yet Fearful and Losing Hope.
I have been in contact with Alexandra occasionally throughout her long-term unemployment and her struggles to find work and a place to call home. She seemed to be turning a corner and getting back on her feet. Sadly, she has run into a major roadblock that could derail her recent successes. Alexandra and her good friend and 99er supporter, Kian Frederick, wrote the following letter that I am posting here.
by Kian Frederick and Alexandra Jarrin
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Originally posted on flashmobs4jobs.org
With small improvements in job creation over the past few months many are hopeful that the economy is on the mend, however slowly. No group of people are more hopeful than the long-term unemployed. This is especially true of the “99ers”, former working and middle class, skilled and professional labor, and middle management folks who were laid off and exhausted their unemployment insurance before they could find a job during this crisis.
This hope, however, is dimmed by a perverse Catch-22: what happens if, now that a glimmer of hope for work may be emerging, some people won’t be able to get to a new job, even if they are offered one? For those living in small towns and rural areas, a car is a lifeline, without which many will not be able to return to the work force, despite more jobs being created and their desperation for work. Since most laid off people had good jobs and credit while they were working, they qualified for and received car loans from major banks. Now, after struggling through such hard times, many have had their cars repossessed (and credit ruined), because they couldn’t make the payments. Safety net programs don’t cover an emergency car payment and with every charity stretched to its last, scarce dollar, cars are considered a luxury, not a necessity. It’s also no surprise that the bailed out banks who hold these loans could care less.
Here is one example of the Catch-22 many now face. You might remember Alexandra Jarrin, the mother of three and former executive who was laid off in 2008 and eventually became a “99er”. After losing everything, she ended up homeless. An August, 2010, New York Times article about Alexandras’ plight was one of the first to bring national attention to the explosion of 99ers, and CNN has covered some of her efforts to get help for the foreclosed and forgotten. Like so many, in recent years Alex has fought back, scraped and struggled to reclaim her life. Now, however, she could lose everything because Chase bank repossessed her car, which she bought a few months before her 2008 lay-off, financing the purchase with a loan from Chase. Here’s what happened:
“Last September, I finally found a job and, a few months later, I was able to rent a small apartment. I took the first job that was offered to me, selling cable subscriptions door to door at 100% commission. It’s wasn’t great, but of course I grabbed it while continuing to look for a job in my field. It was difficult; I’m not a sales person, but I was out there knocking on doors, happy to have a way to support myself. I also finally found a place to live! After everything over the past few years, I honestly felt some hope for the first time”.
“As I was waiting to move in, I came down with pneumonia. At first, I didn’t know what it was and continued to trudge through the Vermont cold knocking on doors. Finally, I was forced to go to the doctor and learned it was pneumonia. I thought, well, I can’t stop now! I was ready to move into my new apartment and nothing was going to defeat me. I had vowed I would never, ever, become homeless again.”
“Soon after I moved in, sales slowed. I kept knocking, but sales were scarce. I was finding most people where not interested in changing what they had for services, or they were dealing with financial issues just like me. Still, I kept knocking, and even with sales slowing down, I managed to pay my rent, but fell behind in my car payments”.
At the same time, I was finally scheduled for needed parathyroid surgery that had been delayed for months because of the difficulties in finding a surgeon and hospital that took my health insurance. Between the pneumonia and the scheduling of my surgery, the doctors required that I not be out in the cold, wet weather knocking on doors. They were concerned about other illnesses I could get that would prevent the surgery and worsen my pneumonia”.
“I tried to find ways to keep selling cable. Calling people I had met or that other people had given me as leads, but sales continued to drop. There really is no other way to get to people but by knocking on their doors”.
“After struggling through all these hard years to keep up with my car payments, I’ve now fallen three months behind. I’ve called Chase what seems like a thousand times, beginning before I was delinquent, and begged them to renegotiate or somehow lower my payments; anything to help me through this, but they refused. They just didn’t care. We have to bail them out because they are “too big to fail”, but I guess they don’t have to do anything for us because we’re “too small to matter”.
“Finally, they came and took my car last Saturday morning. This has happened at the worst possible time. Jobs are starting to open up and I was starting to have conversations with HR personnel regarding positions in my field. I even started to have some interviews. I am so close to a solid step in reclaiming my life, or building a new life, this is a cruel punch in the gut!”.
“Now, I am stranded without any way to work my cable job, get to interviews or in to town. I live on the outskirts of a small town in Southern Vermont. The walk is way too long to get into town and there is no public transportation where I live. There is no one to ask for rides, no cars to borrow. Losing my car completely isolates me from everything and everyone, but the hardest part is that I can’t work”.
“I had stellar credit, for years, when I was working; in my “before” life. Now, all that’s gone and my options are very limited. Before, I always paid my bills on time and maintained my credit. I believe in meeting my responsibilities. I want to pay off my car loan; walking away is just not an option. Even in the darkest days, when I was homeless, I always, somehow, made my car payments because, yes, I needed the car, but it was also a source of pride for me. I was able to hold my head up about one thing, at least”.
“I have a very limited amount of time to get my car back, about a week. Chase has told me they will put it up for auction on or about March 26th, just after my 51st birthday, unless I come up with $2500. Might as well be $25 million, really”. Before the repossession I owed three payments in total, approximately $1100.00 including a small fee for being late. Now, I have to pay all the late payments, the late fees, one additional payment for April and the repossession fee. They also added on top of everything else a $25.00 miscellaneous fee that no one can explain. Chase told me to stay in touch with them so they can tell me what the total is as they get updates from the repossession company. “Oh my word, how much more can they add to it?”
“Throughout the hard times, I’ve borrowed from every friend I know and have literally been blessed by kindness of strangers. I have searched everywhere but there is no emergency hardship funding for car payments, despite how crucial having a car is for those of us who do not live in big cities. And, since my credit is shot because of everything else, no bank will give me a loan”.
“After everything, it’s so devastating to be so, so close and have it all taken away so fast, once again. I finally have a roof over my head and prospects for a real job are looking very good, but without a car it all means nothing”.
“It is awful to ask for help. I think most people want to rely on themselves; I know I do. But, asking for help is what I’m doing. I refuse to believe that I’m done; that all that’s left for me is a return to homelessness and hunger. Others are worse off than me, I know, and everyone is struggling. There is nothing special about me. I’m just one person who has almost made it through and I’m asking anyone who can: Please consider helping me raise the $2500 I need before March 24th to reclaim my car, and my life. Thank you, Thank you, from the bottom of my heart”.
If you wish to help Alex, or to contact her, you can do both at email@example.com.
Your kindness may not be tax deductible, but it is deeply appreciated. Thank you.
Kian Frederick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Alexandra and Kian for further details on how you may be able to help.
While the jobs numbers for the short- and long-term unemployed seem to be improving very slowly, the long-term unemployed are still suffering a jobs depression, historically. Currently, nearly two million workers have been out of work for more than 99 weeks and according to a recent GAO report an estimated 5.5 million have exhausted all UI benefits.
Chase bank should try and assist the struggling long-term unemployed instead of crushing the financial hopes of people like Alexandra Jarrin. The American public bailed-out these giant, corrupt banks with trillions of taxpayer dollars, but these same bailed-out banks act in the same deplorable ways that financially harm so many. It’s time the banks to help the people, since the banks were given everything they wanted and more.
This is not the time to abandon the long-term unemployed; it’s the time to help them. While a million Americans may have found jobs over the past year, more than five million long-term unemployed, including Alexandra Jarrin, have not been so fortunate.