The shutdown is locking me out of the American Dream

As a high school special education teacher with a master's degree, I make ...

Posted: Jan 15, 2019 9:43 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 9:43 PM

As a high school special education teacher with a master's degree, I make $42,000 a year in my local district. For a single person where I live, that is a decent salary -- as long as you are not planning on buying a home.

Like a lot of other Americans, I also have student loans that will, in my case, either eat away at my salary by $375.83 every month until 2040, until the government pays them off (Public Service Loan Forgiveness), or until I die -- whichever comes first.

My student loans are the biggest obstacle to affording a house, as they cause my debt-to-income ratio to be quite high. Most people in my field bought their homes years ago, or have married and bought their homes with a spouse or partner. Now, in my community, it is nearly impossible to buy one in my price range that does not need a lot of repairs or have other problems.

Now that I am 30 and still single, it is time for me to move out of my parents' home. I want the American Dream of home ownership. It's been hard for me, but the struggle doesn't come from laziness or lack of motivation, as is often the stereotype of my generation, but from affordability.

Last year, I set a goal to move out and get my own place, even if it was just 10 minutes down the road. I paid off my car, got rid of credit card debt and began to save. I kept myself motivated by looking at houses in my area that I thought would be in my price range. In early December, the perfect house popped up: two story, three bedrooms, a new roof. This house is in my price range and has everything I wanted -- it's close to school, perfect for all those late nights grading papers and lesson planning.

I got in touch with my realtor right away and we got the plans in motion. I had gotten my paperwork in, taken the classes I needed to take, and paid the fees. All that was left were a few more things on the lender's end, and then we would send it to the USDA to process the load. I had chosen to use a USDA loan due to my location, great credit score (>760), and the low private mortgage insurance (PMI). There are other options, of course, but with those, I would have to pay out thousands of dollars due to high PMIs or for other variables. I'm not willing to compromise, seeing that my salary is already at a point where it will fit just right with the USDA loan's monthly payment.

The week prior to December 22, 2018, there were talks of a government shutdown, but as an unassuming everyday American who doesn't work for the government, I thought it would never affect me. The day after the shutdown started, I got an email from my mortgage lender, explaining how the shutdown will affect the loan that I was going to be getting. Since it was the week of Christmas, I thought the shutdown would eventually end before New Year's, and I would be able to meet my January 18, 2019 final closing day. Now that we are over 20-something days in, my chance of finally owning a home, this particular home especially, continues to dwindle every day this shutdown continues.

Having a place to call your own is an inherent want, or usually is, for most people as they get older. I am ready for that next independent step. I did everything right -- I researched, I saved, I planned -- and now it feels like that dream is slowly slipping through my hands. Yes, there may be more houses out there, but this is the house I want. This is the house I have saved for. This is the house I see myself in for years to come, and maybe even starting a family in.

At this point, I am distraught about the possibility of losing my beloved house, but I realize that is not the only reason I am upset. The more and more I think about potentially losing this house, the more anger is beginning to set in. But this anger is not only for me. It's for others also trying to get their homes and provide for their families, who have people depending on them. I have a fallback: I live with my parents, so I will be okay. What about the others who will remain nameless without their stories being told? As I approach my closing date, I cannot help but wonder how many others have passed theirs.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30377

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6332179
Woodbury320644
Black Hawk219658
Buena Vista170711
Linn124282
Johnson12388
Dallas123529
Marshall104119
Story7513
Pottawattamie71911
Scott71910
Wapello70530
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque62122
Sioux4600
Tama46029
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3135
Warren2641
Dickinson2602
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1712
Cerro Gordo1471
Boone1451
Clarke1292
Clay1280
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1051
Poweshiek1048
Carroll931
Pocahontas931
Bremer916
Des Moines862
Henry863
Franklin840
Cedar811
Emmet800
Taylor790
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd702
Marion680
Hardin670
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Lee532
Butler522
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Madison422
Lyon410
Clayton403
Davis391
Fayette370
Mitchell370
Winneshiek370
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Grundy350
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene290
Howard290
Chickasaw280
Jackson270
Union270
Winnebago270
Ida230
Cass210
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren190
Worth170
Audubon161
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Unassigned70
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