Faces of Foreclosure - | WBTV Charlotte

Faces of Foreclosure


CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This story is a slice of life you rarely see. 

A Pineville couple, Steve and Kay Wilson, lost it all.  They blame the bad economy shutting down jobs for their hardwood flooring business… and ultimately making them not be able to make mortgage payments. 

They lost their house and now are faced with the harsh truth of nowhere to go and barely any money to get by.  After talking with Anchor Molly Grantham over the phone for weeks, they let her in on their day-to-day life in an effort to show what reality looks like when you hit rock bottom.

But when Molly met them, she was immediately struck by their positive attitude.

"There are people who have it so much worse," Kay said, upon their first meeting.  "There are people living in tents."

Kay Wilson said that while standing outside the red construction trailer she and her husband were living in.  It was just wide enough to fit an air mattress and two coolers.  The windowless trailer was parked in a Bi-Lo grocery store parking lot. 

"We never imagined we'd be here," she said.  "I don't think anyone would.  Nobody thinks about this.  Everything is going fine.  You watch it slowly.  You work to keep it from happening.  And you keep working and you keep working.  And then suddenly… well… you just don't think about what you had.  That's what you don't do."

In 2005, Steve said things were really moving along.  His company, "Custom Hardwood Floors" was doing great.  Their home was paid off.  In order to expand, they borrowed against their house to pay off a partner.  And still, things kept moving along. 

The hardship began two-and-a-half years later.  The economy tanked.  Steve's company had been getting lots of work from builders… but when builders stopped building, he stopped getting work.  By his estimation, 90% of his income dropped off.

"It was in a 120-day period," he says.  "The builders just closed up everything.  I was making 10% of what I made.  We tried everything to keep from losing our home.  Everything.  But we just couldn't.  One day the sheriff's office showed up at the door with a piece of paper in hand.  He said, ‘You've got 30 days to vacate the premise."  Steve shrugged.  "That's just the way the system works."

The 68-year-olds moved into a hotel on Independence Boulevard.  Steve says he tried to figure something out and get other jobs.

"We're weren't and aren't looking for any handout," he says, "I was and keep trying to figure out a way to earn a living."

When the Democratic National Convention came to town, the Wilsons had to move out.  All of the hotel rooms were booked. 

With very little money left, the Wilson's headed up I-485 not sure where to go.  In that moment, they had car trouble.  They were able to pull their SUV pulling the red construction trailer into the Bi-Lo parking lot in Pineville. 

"So we said, ‘okay'," said Steve.  "We'll just sleep in the car tonight.  Tomorrow is a new day."

Tomorrow turned into three weeks.  They say the Bi-Lo manager was beyond understanding and let them wash up in the grocery store bathrooms and charge their cell phone in his office.

Meantime, Steve was trying to get his money out of the bank.  The bank said they had to mail a check to them.  With no mailing address, that was difficult.  Steve wanted to just go pick up the cash.  WBTV made a few calls to check and see what the bank policy was… Steve soon got a call he could pick up the cash at a bank branch.

Days later, Code Enforcement showed up.  It had a complaint about the Wilsons living in the parking lot.  "The Red Motel", as they'd taken to calling their environment, had to go. 

"The man with code enforcement was really nice," said Kay.  "He felt terrible for us."

Because they had to move, they found a nearby hotel for $49 a night with taxes.

The Wilsons have had some generous offers from friends, but they are insistent about staying in Pineville.  They have a granddaughter in town who they drive to her job everyday (she is paying for the gas) and a 7-year old grandson they see almost daily. 

"We've had other ideas to stay with people," says Kay.  "But we want to help with our grand kids and can't compromise on moving too far away from them.  They need our help and we want to be as involved with them as we are."

"Moving far away," Steve adds, "just won't work."

Steve says he feels like he will get he and his wife back on their feet.  He says he has had one call about a job and hopes to have more. 

"Business will recover," he says.  "I know I've lost several nice jobs because I haven't been readily accessible to potential clients, but we'll work it out."

Eternal optimists, they both talk about the silver linings.

"We've spent more quality time together in the past weeks than we have in last two years," Steve says with a laugh.  "But you certainly can't give up.  That's the last thing you can do.  You can't get down on yourself either.  You talk with each other.  You pray a lot.  You talk with other people.  And you just keep working to figure something out."

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