Foreclosure. It's a word that's on everyone's mind lately. Another word: crisis. Michael's started 10 years ago.
He was working in the seafood industry at the time, salmon fishing in Bristol Bay off the coast of Alaska. Work was steady because he had experience in all areas of the trade: longline fishing, sand fishing, canning, production, and even retail.
So he decided to take out his first mortgage on a house in Bremerton. His first house. And then it happened: Michael got injured on the job. And to add insult to injury, he didn't receive his due worker's compensation.
"I didn't want to sue because I didn't want to be blackballed from the fishing industry," Michael explains. After all, he could just go back to work as soon as he got better. But between medical bills and mortgage payments, he just couldn't keep up.
"I got hurt the week after signing my [mortgage] papers." Michael reflects. "I was evicted from the house with just a knapsack on my back. I lost all my net worth." Personal belongings, keepsakes, tools, clothing; even his mother's ashes. "The people just rifle through the place and the sheriff throws you out, they come in and just throw everything in a dumpster. And you're just crushed, you know?"
Everything "snowballed" from there on, he tells me, and he's been living "off the grid" ever since: sleeping everywhere from trailers to couches to cardboard and concrete. "I haven't recovered since then," Michael says, describing his subsequent struggle with substance abuse and homelessness. "You just get so far behind you can't catch up."
But he's determined to stay on track. He was introduced to Real Change about a year and a half ago, and has sold the paper nearly every day since. And in the summertime he still shoals salmon off the Washington coast. But every day is a struggle: "I'm just getting by with basic needs at this time."
You can find him selling Real Change at Denny and Aurora, and he appreciates your support. "Your money will be well spent," he says. "Thank you very much."