North Bellmore, New York

Luisa, 88, grew up in a small border town in Texas, one of 13 children raised by parents of Native American and Mexican lineage.

As her son Paul tells the story, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, a friend in Washington, D.C. wrote her a letter, encouraging Luisa to come work in the nation’s capitol, because there were plenty of secretarial jobs. Young, and in the middle of a world war, Luisa left Texas behind and traveled to Washington, D.C., stayed in her friend’s apartment, and while there, met her future husband.

After the war ended, the couple married and moved to North Bellmore, New York, once a potato farm and now a commuter town 35 minutes on The Long Island Railroad from Manhattan. Lenny Bruce once wrestled at the local high school and Amy Fisher, “the Long Island Lolita,” well…you know. There they raised three children.

“Back then, the husband did whatever was necessary to put food on the table,” adds Paul, “so my father worked two jobs, while my mother raised us.”

When her husband died in 1987, at age 65, he left a small pension, but little else in the way of retirement savings. Because his older brother lived in Maryland and his sister in upstate New York – and both were raising their own families – Paul moved back home shortly after his father passed away to ensure his mother was taken care of.

Things were fine initially, but over time Luisa slowly depleted her savings by supporting her grown kids when they needed financial help. “My mother was a very kind woman, who tried to help her kids whenever she could,” says Paul. Since 2000, Paul has been on disability because of a heart ailment. Though he receives a monthly disability check, when combined with Louise’s Social Security, there isn’t much left after bills and other expenses are paid.

“It reached a point where my mother thought she would have to sell the house she had lived in for over 50 years,” he says. “We were living paycheck to paycheck.”

Then he heard about the reverse mortgage program. The home was paid for, so he suggested to his mother that she consider a reverse mortgage, so that she wouldn’t have to struggle anymore. Luisa agreed and she closed on a reverse mortgage with the help of Dennis Haber at Agency for Consumer Equity Mortgages, Inc. “The day she closed on her reverse mortgage, there was $10 left in our bank account,” says Paul.

With the reverse mortgage, Luisa receives an extra $1,200 every month, which she’ll receive for as long as she remains in the home. “Not only does she get to continue living in her home, but now she doesn’t have to worry every time she gets a bill,” notes Paul.