Dale Raugust is humble about his role as a SNAP Housing counselor despite feedback from clients that places him in a range somewhere between super heroes and Santa Claus.

While Raugust might not leap over tall buildings in a single bound or deliver presents to smiling families, his work saving homes from foreclosure throughout Spokane County is viewed by many as a special gift.

Housing Counselor Dale Raugust at the SNAP Financial Access office in the East Central Community Center.
Housing Counselor Dale Raugust at the SNAP Financial Access office in the East Central Community Center.

One client who sings Dale’s praises is Ron, a hardworking husband and father who found himself with a layoff notice and no shortage of uncertainty about the future. Ron and his wife had lived in their Spokane home for many years but the ripple effect of the recession meant the family falling behind on their mortgage payments. It was around that time that Dale arrived on the scene.

“A friend told me about SNAP and that possibly they could help me,” Ron said.  “I was literally on the verge of losing our family home. I had been laid off from my job more than a year before and even with a savings fund of almost an entire year’s costs, our reserves had dwindled down to nothing.”

Dale remembers intervening in a situation where Ron (last name withheld upon client’s request) needed an informed advocate.

“They were dealing with a mortgage company that didn’t care about their situation,” Dale recalls. “Ron’s wife was sick and moving would have been detrimental to her health and recovery.”

Ron was facing a severe uphill slope in trying to keep his home. In addition to the job loss and his wife’s illness, he had received a modification on his home loan back in 2011 which meant adjusting to a lower monthly payment would not be possible.

“When Ron tried to call on his own to talk to the mortgage company, he was disrespected and this in turn caused Ron to react in a manner that further hampered communications,” Dale said. “As soon as I got on the phone, their attitude changed and they became cooperative and helpful.”

Despite the glimmer of hope, there was still no guarantee that the home was safe. Dale submitted a total of half-a-dozen applications to stave off foreclosure.

“In Ron’s case I knew that his income situation was temporary and he would have additional income eventually so it was important to keep on applying until he was in a position to bring it current, as he had a loan that was not modifiable,” Dale said. “Most homeowners have loans that can be modified and once they have stable income, such as a new job, or social security disability or retirement the mortgage companies will usually conduct a fair analysis and offer a modification if one can be offered.”

By January of 2013, Ron had secured a temporary job that would pay enough to propose a repayment plan. Dale’s sixth loan modification package was sent to the mortgage company as part the mediation that February. The company submitted a new offer of repayment and Dale and Ron attended another mediation two months later.  Eventually, Ron complied with a repayment plan over the next six months and the home was taken out of foreclosure.

Ron credits Dale and SNAP “for saving our old but lovely home, with its little orchard and large gardens of flowers and food.”

“If it were not for Dale, his team and the dear, relentless folks at SNAP, we might be living on the street, or in our truck,” Ron said. “I urge any citizen and their families finding themselves in any type of trouble over their home and well-being to get to a SNAP office immediately and begin the good-fight to secure their lives.”