Thank you, Senator Moua

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Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua, like many Minnesotans including many in her own district, lost her house to foreclosure. Like many people in similar situations, she’s kept it to herself. Today, that changed.


In a Saint Paul Pioneer Press interview, published September 17, Senator Moua shared her experience. It’s a brave act.


Moua’s story is remarkably common, experienced by hundreds of thousands of people across our state and nation over the past several years. She, her husband and her parents jointly purchased a home on Saint Paul’s east side with an adjustable rate mortgage. While a popular financing instrument at the time, buying an ARM-mortgaged house is a little like storing dynamite in the basement. Eventually, something will blow up.


That’s what happened to Senator Moua and her family. Interest rate payments rose as our economy tanked. They fell behind on their mortgage, were served foreclosure papers, tried to find refinancing, couldn’t, moved out, lost their house and now reside with her sister’s family. Their experience is much too much Minnesota’s shared experience.


Having lived through the 1980s farm crises on a farm in a farming community, I know that shame is foreclosure’s brother. That’s financial failure’s unspoken element. I commend Senator Moua’s willingness to share her experience. It’s a tough thing to admit.


Don’t, however, get lost in maudlin sentiment. Senator Moua’s experience highlights Minnesota’s path forward. Kith and kinship networks – friends and family – pitched in, as they do with nearly every family losing a home. Minnesota has built a remarkable public social safety net and, despite conservative policymakers’ assaults, it continues to serve us well. Strong schools, affordable health care, robust transportation networks and smart economic development investments move Minnesota forward, building prosperity.


Falling down doesn’t mean being trapped down forever. That’s Minnesota’s great promise and greater tradition. We need it now, more than ever.