Help With Housing For a Family of 6

$15,093 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 69 people in 38 months
Hello, my name is Ann and I am in a rather unusual and unfortunate situation. For the past several years I have been beset by circumstances that have been slowly but surely spiraling out of control.

In 2009, I was living and working in Des Moines, IA with my son, Michael and his dad. I had a nursing job that I loved.  That year my mother, Margaret, was diagnosed with dementia. Subsequently, the decision was made for her to come live with us and I quit my job to take care of her.

This was the status quo until early in 2012, when Michael began failing in school. I requested an assessment, which the school district failed to do. As a result, I removed him from school and began to home school him to remove any distractions that might have been contributing to his learning difficulties. What I learned quickly was that he exhibited the tendencies and behaviors of someone with Attention Deficit Disorder as well as depression, which he was formally diagnosed with that summer. When I approached the school district about his learning needs, I was told that there were no meaningful accommodations that they could make because he is not disruptive in the classroom, so his needs were not a priority. My brother and sister-in-law, who are teachers in the Mpls. St.Paul area, observed that it was a shame that we didn't live in Minnesota, where we could get better support in the school system. Michael's godfather, who was living in the Minneapolis area, invited Michael and me to live with him permanently so that Michael could attend school in Minnesota. Michael and I accepted and moved, and I began to look for nursing work.

The plan was that my mother would stay in Des Moines in a day program, but her behavior problems due to the dementia made this untenable so she also moved in with us, effectively keeping me out of the work force once more.

In April 2013, my youngest brother Donnie died, leaving a widow, Davidetta with two very young children, 2 (Dominica) & 4 (Adrian) years old. Since I was a stay-at-home mom, I took care of her children fairly often in the morning, getting them ready for school and off to the bus for school and/or daycare, and also on Saturdays so that their mom could work as close to full-time as possible. In 2014, she returned to school to become a Certified Medical Assistant while continuing to work.

In April of this year, without warning, Michael's godfather announced that he needed to move out and find a different job. I was heartbroken and I started searching for housing nearby that would not disrupt our lives too much.

By May I found that most of the housing that was in our price range was in the worst areas of our school district, in drug-infested apartment buildings with too few bedrooms for the three of us. At this point, Michael's godfather offered to sell his house to me. In August, I had the house inspected and appraised, and our respective real estate attorneys are hammering out the final details of the sale. The estimated purchase price is $210K when all costs are considered and I will assume the mortgage after the current owner gets his equity.

In the past several months there have been several crucial developments:

In September, Davidetta, Adrian, and  Dominica (now 5 and 7) moved in with us. This means that instead of two single moms raising their kids separately, we are helping each other much more closely, and there isn’t a lot of driving back and forth between houses.

As of November, Michael's academic challenges have continued despite support. He was re-evaluated and diagnosed additionally with Sensory Processing Disorder and is now getting treatment (OT) at Courage Kenny in Golden Valley.

I also decided to post here on GoFundMe with a goal of $150, 000. Yes, it's a HUGE number, but I have my own skin in the game, committing approximately $25,000 of my own money that I have already gathered for a down payment.

You may well ask, why buy instead of move/rent, and why this particular house?

First, this provides stability for Michael (and the other two kids), which is my primary concern. The Sensory Processing Disorder makes transitions extremely hard for him. For the first time ever, Michael has made friends at his current school and he has not had that sort of support system at any of the other schools he has attended. He feels comfortable in his home surroundings, and is only two years from graduation. He has also developed close friendships in his youth group at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, MN.  There is a mentorship program that has helped him develop a valuable and supportive relationship with J.J., his assigned mentor. He feels connected, loved, and supported there.  In addition to his OT provider at Courage Kenny, he also has a good therapeutic relationship with both his primary care provider and a psychologist who has been invaluable in helping him adapt to our life changes, including his dad’s and my divorce.

Second, this also provides stability for my mother, who is a poor candidate for long-term care because she becomes very difficult when she is dealing others. In addition, she becomes extremely confused with any change of environment; her dementia is so advanced that if she goes away for the weekend, when she returns home she can't find the bathroom, doesn't know where her room is, etc. for several days. In long-term care, she would be among unfamiliar people and an unfamiliar setting, and in an institutional setting with her memory problems it would be nearly impossible for her to get her bearings even in memory care.  I have worked in long term care, and understand how difficult this sort of condition can be for everyone involved. It also keeps Mom off Medicare/Medicaid with a higher level and quality of one-on one care, and a better environment with a large, comfortable, private room, in a controlled environment.

Why am I trying to raise such a large proportion of the funds through GoFundMe?

Mom's retirement income is partially supporting Mom, me, and Michael at this time. Mom will not live forever, and though I am employable I have been out of the work force for an extended period of time. The state of Minnesota requires that I do at least a full semester of classes before I can be considered for a state license and it will take time for me to take qualifying classes, renew my nursing license AND to find a job after my mother eventually passes.  My goal is to pay as much as possible up front to make assuming the mortgage, refinancing, and getting a manageable mortgage payment possible even if I end up with a lower end job or I have to work part-time at non-nursing wages while I pursue the renewal of the nursing license.

While there are other ways of going about this, many of them would be equally or more expensive and they would be temporary fixes at best.  This living situation would provide long-term permanent housing for six people, keeping us in a family environment in which we can more easily support each other and do life together.   It’s my expectation that my sister in law will eventually remarry (she’s a knock-out!), and at that point I will open up my home to others who have need of housing and would prefer to live in a co-housing or “household” type of situation rather than with complete strangers.  We are ideally situated for Michael’s continuing education.  He is likely to be a “delayed launch” (rather than a “failure to launch”) due to the ADD and Sensory Processing issues.  We are close to several community colleges and are within reasonable commuting distance for the University of MN, should that level of education be in the cards for him.  If any money over and above the stated goal is raised, it will go towards some maintenance needs that the house has- for examplehere are a couple of windows that should be replaced, and some roofing repair that needs to be done.  

I greatly appreciate any donations, Shares, Tweets, Retweets, kind thoughts and prayers.
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Update 4
Posted by Ann Totusek
37 months ago
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This is an incredible paperwork crawl. The only other time I've been involved with a house purchase, I wasn't actually involved in the process except for signing the paperwork because I was hospitalized. But we're almost done, and we're very excited.
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Update 3
Posted by Ann Totusek
37 months ago
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HUGE day today. I was struggling in prayer to make sure that proceeding with this was the right thing to do, so I called the bank to double check and ensure that things would work the way I thought they would. I had originally investigated back when we first talked about doing the mortgage assumption, and the person I spoke with confirmed that it would work. Last night Mark Hagerman (Michael's dad, and the person who is advising me and helping me on this because he knows much more about it than I do) suggested double checking with the bank to ensure that there would not be any surprises when I went to assume the loan later this year. The person I spoke with _today_ said "Well, yes, that would work, but..." and presented an option for arranging the mortgage and purchase that we hadn't considered before. It's complex for me to explain, but he ran the pre-approval, and it will work. We close on January 19. I don't have to assume a mortgage- we get our own. It has a lower interest rate, and a lower monthly payment- even though I've already demonstrated to my satisfaction that we could live with the one we have. Thank you all who have supported us this far with shares and donations. Continued shares to reach people who haven't heard about it at all, or haven't heard about it at a time that they could donate and possibly could now are wonderful and deeply appreciated. If you can't donate, please pray for us as we take these steps in faith while still being as wise about our actions as we possibly can.
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Update 2
Posted by Ann Totusek
37 months ago
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Someone posted a comment that said "I find it disgraceful that you are using this means to purchase a home. " I deleted the comment because it was just rude, but on reflection, I have decided to respond to it anyway since I did say that I would answer any questions that came up.

What would be disgraceful would be dumping off your parent on the government/taxpayer's dime. Had we simply put mom in a nursing home six years ago, her funds would run out in just over a year. At that point, she would have gone on public assistance to pay for her care. So instead of people being asked, and deciding that they could afford to contribute a bit to help, they would not have been asked, they would have simply been taxed. Care at the level she would require runs about $8K a month, so at this point, the taxpayers have _not_ paid approximately $576,000. Given that her mother lived to be 97, mom could easily live to be the same age, so another 12 years (not even adjusting for inflation) would cost the unasked and un-consenting taxpayers $1,152,000. The solution I have come up with provides better, less expensive care for her, as well as shelter for 5 other people, a large part of which we are still paying for ourselves. No one is being asked to contribute here unless they think they are able to and unless they choose to- it's not expected, but when it happens, it is greatly appreciated.
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Update 1
Posted by Ann Totusek
38 months ago
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We are stunned by people's generosity both in financial terms and in terms of being willing to spread the word about our campaign, yet not surprised. I have always been proud to have the friends and community that I do, and this occasion is no exception. As I said earlier, I know we are asking for a big number- if you have any questions that aren't answered in our campaign introduction, please don't hesitate to ask me on Facebook, and I will post the question and answer as an update here. If you're giving of time or reputation (by vouching for us when you Share), you deserve for us to be up front about any concerns you might have.
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$15,093 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 69 people in 38 months
Created December 4, 2015
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$2,000
Anonymous
13 months ago
HP
$1,000
Hiufs Paket
16 months ago

The amount is from our 2.Charity jass turner.

$100
Anonymous
26 months ago
TL
$25
Tracy Lunquist
26 months ago (Monthly Donation)
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$25
Tracy Lunquist
27 months ago (Monthly Donation)
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$25
Tracy Lunquist
28 months ago (Monthly Donation)
$100
Anonymous
29 months ago
$50
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29 months ago (Monthly Donation)
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$25
Tracy Lunquist
29 months ago (Monthly Donation)
$50
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30 months ago (Monthly Donation)
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