America filled him with the promise of a new beginning when Espedito Bifero decided to move to Chicago from Italy over 56 years ago. He felt a wave of encouragement rush over him as he settled into a comfortable life with his wife and children – he even began coaching soccer and worked with the youth division for several years. Espedito and his family lived happily; his children had children and he enjoyed working hard and celebrating life.
In the many years since he came from overseas, he held two labor intensive jobs that took a toll on his body. He had relentless back, neck, and shoulder pain, and even had two procedures done to help alleviate some of the strain. But even with all that going against him physically and financially, he said he kept going for his family. It wasn’t until he faced the greatest heartache he had ever known – a sadness that had turned the life he built upside down – that it became too much.
“I lost my wife a few years ago – she was very precious,” Espedito reflected. “It’s a very sad experience when you wake up one morning and you lost your spouse. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Naturally, payments started to fall behind as the Bifero family navigated their way through this new chapter. Espedito said he lost half his income when his wife passed on, lost his social security, and had been out of work for a couple years due to his injuries, which meant he faced the reality that he might lose his home. He felt as if his whole world was crumbling beneath him; however, Espedito made a promise to himself that as long as he lives, he would do whatever he could to be there for his grandkids. He said he will never give up. And with that promise in his heart, he went to The Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) to apply for utility assistance.
“After 56 years I have never applied for any kind of handout or help – that’s not me. But I really needed it at that point,” Espedito said.
After reviewing his paperwork, the CEDA representative told Espedito that he should also visit local Housing Counseling Agency, Spanish Coalition for Housing. She encouraged him to apply for their Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) Program, which is a program that offers qualifying applicants mortgage assistance.
He went to SCH and started working with Homeownership Counselor, Tabitha Rodriguez. She said Espedito was very diligent at turning in all required paperwork, even walking 40 minutes to meet a deadline on a day his car was unavailable.
“It was delightful working with him. He was very cooperative, very responsive and very appreciate of everything we did for him,” Tabitha stated fondly. “Those are always my favorite clients – the ones that acknowledge your role and appreciate it.”
After 4 months of waiting to hear back on whether he was approved for the program, he was able to move forward in February 2017. Although this victory could never make his loss easier, he feels confident that he will be okay, recover from his injuries, return to work, and start his life up again in his treasured home.
“My house is my home. It’s everything to me,” Espedito said. It would be even better if my wife was with me, but home is a wonderful place to be.”
Espedito said he wasn’t expecting to find this type of help for his situation. A weight has been lifted off his and his family’s shoulders and he couldn’t be more relieved to be starting fresh. He believes these services are great for those truly in need.
“This comes from the heart,” He stated. “There’s someone there to help and I had no idea. I never thought I would face the things I did, and you never know what you might go through [in life]. But if you need help, go see SCH. I’ll be going to them when I need them, too.”
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay the mortgage or are/is already behind on payments, please call or visit the Spanish Coalition for Housing office nearest you:
1922 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60639
1915 S. Blue Island,
Chicago, IL 60608
9010 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617