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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The End of a Dream

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jul 22, 2008

I was on my way to see for myself how the loan restructurings are going when I ran into Marilu Gonzalez, and her three daughters, ages 13, 10 and 3. The Gonzalez family just drove about an hour from Bowie, Md. to get here, because a cousin called and told them he got his loan restructured on Monday. NACA has always been good at publicity, but what’s interesting to me is that people here keep telling me they learned of this event word-of-mouth. Gonzalez was surprised to see so many people here because she thought it was just for the Spanish community.

Her husband is out circling in the car, trying to find parking. He took off work today for this. But it’s too hot for Gonzalez and the children to wait in line, especially the three-year-old. So he’ll do that duty, when he finally finds a parking space.

The Gonzalez family is in big trouble. They haven’t made a mortgage payment in seven months, since their interest-only loan reset. Their monthly payments jumped from $3,300 to $4,300. They haven’t been foreclosed on yet, but they expect it to happen any day. The house they bought two years ago for $505,000 is worth $399,000 now. And the once-steady construction job that Gonzalez’s husband had slowed down when the economy did. Still, they made every payment on time until December, when the loan reset. They don’t have enough income to keep the house, unless they can get the loan redone.

Which, in any life, would be stressful enough. Add three young children to the mix. Gonzalez was trying to explain her circumstances to me while making an emergency bathroom break for the three-year-old and her two sisters, and rushing back out to look for her husband. Plus, the little one was getting hungry, and they could be here, in a hotel lobby, for hours. “It’s all been very hard,” Gonzalez said, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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