From A Responsible Homeowner: I'm Not Mad If anyone has the right to be peeved about the help that "irresponsible homeowners" are getting from the government, it's the people who did it right-- who bought their homes only after careful research and chose one that was within their means. Though commentator Val Zavala was one of the responsible ones, she's not mad at those who weren't as careful.
NPR logo From A Responsible Homeowner: I'm Not Mad

From A Responsible Homeowner: I'm Not Mad

Maybe buying that mansion wasn't such a good idea after all. hide caption

toggle caption

Val Zavala is an anchor/reporter at KCET public television in Los Angeles. Ed Krieger/Courtesy of KCET Publicity hide caption

toggle caption
Ed Krieger/Courtesy of KCET Publicity

OK. Will all of us "responsible homeowners" please stand up and pat each other on the back? I'll be the first to boast that when I bought my first home I was a neophyte, but I did my homework. I called a dozen banks. Compared rates. Learned what points were (a rip-off ). What PMI was (another rip-off). And the difference between fixed and adjustable mortgages. I quickly figured out that if you like uncertainty, go with an adjustable. But if you want your payment to be the same today as 30 years from now, go with a fixed. And yes, it took me several years of no vacations and no new cars to save the down payment. But I knew when I moved into my home it would be a safe refuge, not a fiscal precipice.

So if anyone should be throwing shoes at those "irresponsible homeowners" it's me.

But I'm not.

In fact, I am glad to know that finally after bailing out overpaid Wall Street executives, the government is getting to the source of this meltdown. It's finally fixing the foundation of this crumbling house instead of patching the roof.

And no, I don't resent the people who are getting help, even if they let their lust for square footage exceed their paycheck. Why? Let me put it this way. Which one of you responsible homeowners would really trade places with a family in foreclosure? If you can pay your bills without sweating, buy groceries without checking prices, and imagine a real retirement — why would you want the anxiety, the dread, the nightmares that come with facing foreclosure? Is a mortgage rescue from the government really worth the despair it takes to need one? I can certainly answer for myself: No way!

In fact, the more people — responsible or "un" — who can stay in their homes, the better. Because foreclosures drag down my home's value. So I'm willing to forgive them their irresponsible behavior — that's assuming it's all their fault, which it probably isn't — because relief for them means the price tag on my house will be higher when I'm ready to sell. And just as important, my neighborhood will be stronger. Our neighborhoods will be stronger.

So all you responsible homeowners who are miffed about the foreclosure bailout, thank your lucky PMI and hope the foreclosure family down the street gets the help it needs.

Val Zavala is an anchor/reporter at KCET public television in Los Angeles.