River’s Edge: I’m still here

Dorothea Cole looks out the dining room window with a peaceful gaze. “We have our own zoo out here,” she grins. “We get all kinds of birds, deer, and we can see fish in the river that runs through the backyard. When my grandchildren visit, they love to look out the window.”

Dorothea loves her home. It’s on a quiet cul-de-sac. She and her neighbors look out for each other. In the summer, they have block parties. She still marvels at the unique twist of fate that got her to this house.

In 2010, Dorothea’s home was purchased by the state for development purposes. She had a year to find a new place to live and found a small house within a new Oakland Housing development in Pontiac. But before she could finalize the paperwork, she got sick.

One house left
By the time she got out of the hospital, the house she wanted was taken. One house in the development remained available – it was larger and backed up to the river. Oakland Housing worked with her to arrange a mortgage she could afford, and she got the house.

Then she got sick again. Dorothea lives with lupus and is accustomed to flare ups. But this time it was cancer. And a few back surgeries. She couldn’t work and lost her job. She worried that she would lose her home too.

Oakland Housing worked with Dorothea. They set her up in programs that helped her with mortgage payments. They made custom arrangements. They called to check on her.

Personal service
“I wouldn’t have been able to make these arrangements with a standard mortgage company – I would just be a number to them, they wouldn’t care,” says Dorothea. “Oakland Housing is much more compassionate. They offered personal assistance.”

Dorothea still has some health problems. But she greets each day with a smile. She has faith to keep going. She loves her home. She loves that she can cook for her family and host bible study there each week.

“I stopped worrying. Oakland Housing took care of me. I still have my home,” she says. “And I’m still here.”