Foreclosed family in crisis.
July 16, 2012 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Resources for foreclosed family to find new place to live in Minneapolis? (Also questions on how to deal with a family crisis in general.)

My mom recently lost her house and is currently staying with me, along with my 16 year old brother and one of our family cats. I am trying to help her find a new place to rent, hopefully starting August 1st, but am running out of energy to do this search.

Some background: I knew she was having trouble with her payments, but I didn't realize how serious things had become until she called me to say that the sheriff had knocked on her door and given her 48 hours to get out of the house. I think she was hiding the seriousness of the situation from me because she was ashamed, and I think she also was avoiding the paperwork due to feeling overwhelmed and depressed, and didn't realize how fast things could move or how far along in the process of foreclosure she was. She was able to get a slight extension of one week after the initial sheriff visit, but that still gave us an extremely short timeline to get her valuables packed up, arrange storage for them, find a place for her and the rest of the family to stay, and look for a permanent home for them.

My mom is really struggling right now, with general depression and anxiety which is a constant for her anyway, and with feeling like a complete failure because of this. Even before this happened, she was on leave from work due to mental health issues, had started seeing a therapist on my recommendation, and was planning to enter a day treatment program for depression. My brother is doing very poorly in school and is not on course to graduate, is smoking pot, and fights with her regularly (both of them are at fault for this). This is probably the worst point in her life.

I have been trying to pick up the slack, but am feeling overwhelmed myself. I helped her pack until the wee hours before she moved out, and arranged and paid for a storage unit to be delivered. I thought she could stay with a different family member, but when that relative was being extremely judgmental and resentful about it I told her to stay with me (after asking my wonderful partner, who helped with the aforementioned packing as well) in our small duplex rental with our cat. I also have been the one to talk to my brother about what is going on (which has been heartbreaking). There are other issues as well--our other family cat (who is my special pet) is missing, and I have been putting up fliers, wandering around our old house calling for him and calling animal control/humane societies trying to find him for a week now and I am losing hope after one neighbor said they might have seen an animal who was hit by a car a while back (but the timing might not be right). I am also encouraging my mom to send my brother to stay with his dad in another state, since things here are in such upheaval and I think he needs the structure and discipline. Neither of them wants to do this, so I end up the "bad guy" even though I think it's probably the only way my brother will graduate. She also got a dog about a year ago, and I adamantly think he should go with my brother out of state since she doesn't have the ideal dog parent situation and it makes finding a place much more difficult. (He is staying at a different relative's right now.)

Generally, I feel like she has no other support system and nothing will get done if I don't do it myself. I realize this sounds codependent and unhealthy, but it's the honest truth. I feel special responsibility to protect my brother from this awfulness. I was doing well at trying to be distant from the family drama, until this happened (which makes me wonder if I could have prevented it if I had actually known what was going on). On top of all this is the fact that this was my family home, and it's an emotional loss for me, too, even if I don't live there anymore. That, coupled with worry about my cat, gives this whole stressful situation an added level of sadness.

All of this is a long way of saying: I am exhausted and burnt out and want some help. My mom is pretty much internet illiterate, so I spent all weekend looking with her at Craig's List ads and trying to find a two bedroom rental that would accept cats located near her work. She made a list of places and called them all, but hardly any answer and some are taken already and it just takes so much work (and we are running out of time!). I thought "there must be some organization that specializes in giving this kind of help!", but there doesn't seem to be. There are plenty of orgs who help people facing the possibility of foreclosure (if only I had known before this happened), but they have all turned me away when I ask for resources for the actual foreclosed. I mean, what's a homeless family supposed to do? It seems crazy to me. One guy from a foreclosure prevention center literally told me that "that's what daughters are for," when I explained the situation. Really?

I was hoping the hivemind might have some ideas about where to turn. I would also appreciate any other advice if you have faced a situation like this. It's really overwhelming, for both my mom and myself. I would really appreciate any help you could give. Thanks so much.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This organization, Crisis Connection, may be a good place to start. In addition to being a likely source of support for a family in crisis, they're also likely to know about local resources that may be able to help address your family's practical problems.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:22 PM on July 16, 2012

First....tell her from me there is life after foreclosure. (We lost our home last year.)

Second, what will be helpful for the both of you is if you give her a definite time frame. That sounds counterproductive but it is what was done with us, and it worked.

The key is, depressed or not, she has to own the fact she has to do something herself. This means she may have to make some hard choices but those choices will be easier for her to make if she is the one making them, so to speak (this is where that time frame comes in. It forces the issue.)

I would start with social services in your city and go from there. They may have suggestions of programs or resources in your area.

Having been depressed myself I know just how very very hard this is to deal with while depressed. What does her therapist have to say? She needs to ask.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2012

You could try St Stephen's. It sounds like your mom and brother fall outside their specific programs (not being on the street is good, but puts you outside the target group for a lot of programs), but there's a chance they could give you some leads.

You could try Avenues for Youth to see if they have ideas for services for your brother. He's outside their remit since he's not on the street and not on his own. I've heard positive things about them because they run the LGBT host home program. (Google turns up some other programs for youth (again mostly youth on their own), but I mention the one I've heard of.)

In digging around for resources, I found HousingLink, which caps the rent on the listings they accept and is searchable by location, so that might be easier than searching Craigslist. (The links seem to go back to Craigslist ads, or at least it did for the listing by my landlord (me-mail me if you want that information--reasonable rent, good landlord, allows cats, owns a load of buildings, so there a chance of vacancy).)
posted by hoyland at 8:17 PM on July 16, 2012

I'm sorry you are going through this. :( It's not your fault for establishing your own boundaries.

This is a searchable database of social services in Minnesota. You can also call the phone number 24/7. Tips: Call more than once if it doesn't seem to meet your needs (different people might have different ideas for you/your Mom). Be prepared to follow up or have to go through a few different organizations before you find one that can help. CommonBond is one that comes to mind but there are also many organizations that specifically assist women and/or people with disabilities.

Regarding calling listings, is your mother good on the phone? Some people have a better phone presence than others. Maybe someone else could make the calls if she does not have that knack. (I mean this in a completely neutral way; my mother is great, but she is awful at telephoning.)

Minneapolis has a strong Occupy movement that is focusing on foreclosed homes. They might be able to recommend resources.

Feel free to pm me or email ( for more on any of these or if you just want to bounce off ideas.
posted by ramenopres at 8:43 PM on July 16, 2012

There's a list of services offered by Lutheran Social Services here.

Their general housing services are here. They also have things like financial counseling, debt counseling, etc. It's probably worthwhile to talk with someone there about the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, since it sounds like she has very little in terms of assets at this point. She should also be able to get some help with your brother there.

HousingLink, as mentioned, is really excellent.
posted by kavasa at 9:24 PM on July 16, 2012

I appreciate what you are going through with your Mom and Brother. I think your idea of having your brother go live with his Dad is a good one. Who cares if brother or mom don't like it? Your mom has few options and your brother is a kid who needs to be in a calm and stabile environment and it sounds like his Dad can provide it. What does Dad say? How does he feel about his son being for all intents and purposes, homeless?

Stop dicking around with Craigslist and go to You can plug in a zip code and it will show you apartment complexes in that area. You can go to a rental office, tour a model and apply for an apartment. Saturday is a great day for this. It can even be fun. Also, with your brother living with his Dad, she can get a cheaper apartment.

You need to demand more of your Mom. She needs to pull it together. It's not fair to dump everything on you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreed with contacting social services; and keep at it until you can find someone to help your mom. Not only for housing, but things like food stamps, TANF (because she has a dependent child), etc. can help mom get back on her feet.

There are two sides to having your brother live with his dad. It sounds like dad would be able to provide the structure that mom cannot; it will certainly help your brother long-term to be able to graduate high school and function as an adult. "But I don't wanna!" shouldn't factor into the equation unless Dad is abusive. However, your mom may be eligible for certain services with an underage child in the home that she may not be able to get as a childless, non-elderly adult. Depending on the services available, having your brother live with her for the time being may make a difference between being able to get non-family help and having most of the burden fall on you, your ability to provide help, and the goodwill of a potential landlord. In the latter case, it may be better to have your brother stay for now and go live with Dad when Mom is on her feet and not dependent on the kind of help given only to parents.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:35 AM on July 17, 2012

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