Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Once Affluent Chicagoland Families Struggle to Pay Bills in Tough Economic Times

Economic challenges have affected virtually all parts of the country for so long now that it is essentially “old news” to talk about the struggle that so many families in our area are facing.  However, for the actual residents worrying every single day about how they will make it to the next morning, the news is not old at all.  It is fresh and very real.  Our Oak Park bankruptcy lawyers continue to work with many of these community members who have done nothing wrong but have still found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.  When jobs are lost, business revenues decreases, and opportunities evaporate, so many local residents have difficulty keeping up financially as they did before the trouble hit.

A recent Chicago Tribune article explored the struggles that so many area residents continue to face.  The problem is not affecting any single spectrum of society.  Even those who were once well-off are now scrambling to make ends meet.  For example, the story highlights one family that has been hit hard by the economic turmoil.  The breadwinner of the family was earned a six figure salary as a bank manager in 2008.  However, the job and that salary were gone when the financial crisis hit, and the man has struggled to find steady work since then.  As a result his family faced a Chicago home foreclosure, has been evicted from two rental properties, and now lives in a modest ranch home with rent paid for by a relative.  The man admits that his family now relies heavily on government and charity for food, health care, and day-to-day necessities. 

Low-income families have been hit hard as of late, but more affluent Chicagoland families have also suffered.  Many once-wealthy families have had their lives turned upside down by lost jobs, pay cuts, disappearing savings, and home value decreases.  The emotional toll can be tough for those involved.  It is natural for pride to get in the way when families begin to rely on outside help—such as food pantries—to get by each day.  These pressures create everyday stress each, and family dynamics are often affected.  Many marriages have been frayed in these tough times, and children are made to handle situations with which they had never before been presented.

No matter how hard things get, local advocates remind all community members that help is available for those who need it.  For example, one local woman recalls visiting the Illinois Department of Human Services office for the first time to apply for Medicaid and food assistance.  She explained how she covered up her emotions while inside the facility but broke down into tears afterward in the parking lot.  Many local families have had to face similar tough realities in the last few years.

The Oak Park bankruptcy lawyers at our Emerson Law Firm have experience helping residents who are facing a wide variety of financial problems.  Whether bill collectors are become too aggressive, the bank is threatening to take the house, or some other financial challenges are at hand, it is important to remember that legal tools may be available to help.  Many residents in this situation often assume that disaster is inevitable, and so they wait out the clock without seeking any professional guidance.  This is a mistake.  We continue to urge all residents to contact our office and see how we can help.  There is nothing to lose from learning more, but much that can be gained.

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