A good son: A homeowner saves his home and honors his mother

Larry Whittaker, Hudson Valley

No one should have to choose between burying his mother and keeping his home. But Larry Whittaker, lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, was once faced with just that.

Whitaker has been a resident of Rosendale, N.Y., his entire life. He bought his home 25 years ago from the original owner. There, he raised his children and then cared for his mother as she grew older.

Over the past few years, Larry nearly lost the home that was a haven for his family. It started with a series of illnesses: Larry suffered an aneurysm, followed by a heart attack in 2015. As he was recovering, his mother became ill and eventually passed away. Larry was unable to work during this period, and soon found himself having to choose between paying his property taxes and giving his mother a loving and respectful burial.

To Larry, the choice was obvious. “My mother took care of me all my life,” he said. Now it was his turn to take care of her and give her the burial she deserved.

Even with a generous and understanding agreement with his mother’s undertaker, he found himself having to put off paying his property taxes. Eventually, he filed for bankruptcy, but found it difficult to even pay his bankruptcy payments.

Larry was only three months away from a foreclosure auction when a friend suggested he contact RUPCO, a Kingston, N.Y.-based nonprofit that offers housing counseling to homeowners in the Hudson Valley. The organization is a member of the New York State Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (or HOPP), a statewide network of housing and legal services providers. The organization also refers homeowners to the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program, which provides mortgage loans up to $40,000 to eligible homeowners in need.

“Homeownership feels great. I’m glad I have it.”

Larry initially felt his home was not able to be saved, but as soon as he sat down with homeownership preservation counselor Lisa Luborsky, he felt more hopeful. She said with confidence, “We will take care of you.” Housing counselors like Luborsky are experienced, trained professionals who advise homeowners on preventing foreclosure, buying a home, protecting credit, and many other homeownership-related issues. It was with her caring and meticulous help that Larry was eventually able to get a loan of $10,300, enough for him keep his home.

These days, you can find Larry spending time with his grandson, whether it’s enjoying Larry’s goldfish pond in the yard or fishing at the creek right across from his home. “Homeownership feels great. I’m glad I have it,” he said. And knowing that he was more financially stable because of the help from NYS-MAP also brought him relief. “You can shut your door and breathe at night -- you don’t know how it feels when you’re free and clear.”

Have you missed mortgage payments or are behind on property taxes?

The New York State Mortgage Assistance Program may be able to help. Contact us at 855-NYSMAP-3 to learn more.