HADDONFIELD, N.J. (WTXF) - New Jersey property taxes are among the highest in the nation and when a disabled woman saw her taxes skyrocket, it was a dark time for her and her family.
But FOX 29’s Bill Anderson found the family and community united to help, For Goodness Sake.
“So you’ve lived here pretty much all your life?” he asked Alice Smith.
“Yes, pretty much all my life and I love living here,” Alice answered.
Alice’s parents knew complications from her polio would make it difficult for her to ever be able to pay for her childhood home and they didn’t want her to have to leave.
That’s why they made the necessary arrangements for the home to be paid for, before they passed away.
But in New Jersey, a common problem: increasing taxes has put Alice in the position where she could be forced out of the home where she has lived for 60 years.
“So your parents bought the house and gave it to you?” Bill asked.
“Yeah,” she responded.
“And why’d they do that?” he followed up.
“Because they wanted me to stay here and that was my dream,” she answered.
Alice is both physically and mentally disabled. She is fairly independent, living on her own in Haddonfield with caretakers visiting daily, but Bill had been warned she doesn’t exactly adjust well to strangers. Thankfully he and Alice immediately found a common bond.
“I used to love listening to WDAS at night with Georgie Woods. I had a ball listening to that,” she happily explained.
“I grew up at WDAS,” Bill said impressively. “My father use to manage that station.”
“Oh really!” Alice said excitedly.
Now that they were friends, she shared more of her situation with Bill.
Alice receives permanent disability and her late father’s pension of roughly $17,000 a year. With family support, she got by. But as taxes rose to $8,500 per year, she got behind and faced foreclosure.
She may not understand the details, but Alice does understand and colorfully expressed that she’s staying.
Bill asked, “If somebody told you they wanted you to move, what would you say?”
“Hell no, you go to hell!” she replied.
Unfortunately, as Alice remained in her home, the foreclosure moved forward. The family didn’t have the money to pay the back taxes and a reverse mortgage couldn’t be completed because the house needed thousands of dollars of improvements. So her brother and grandson launched a GoFundMe account.
“Absolutely amazed and very encouraged, “nephew Mark Smith said, amazed. “You just put out there that there’s somebody in need and how quickly people responded.”
Thousands of dollars poured in, from $10 to $2,000 donations. That was enough money to pay Alice’s back taxes, make the home repairs, and complete a reverse mortgage.
Alice’s house appears to be safe but her nephew says he’s still concerned about others in similar situations.
“There’s other people out there who may not have the support network that Alice has,” Mark described, “who also may be elderly or physically handicapped, and may be getting taken out of their home.”
While Alice showed Bill her love for the piano, and they continued to talk old time radio, she remains unaware of how close she came to losing the only house she has ever known.
“All of my memories have been in this house,” she disclosed.
The hope is that Alice’s story will inspire decision-makers to take a long look at policies and how they impact many of those least able to take care of themselves.
For Goodness Sake, I’m Bill Anderson.