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Recession leaves a Hillsborough family in tatters

Michelle Brown and daughter Shelly, 16, look through Shelly’s Bloomingdale High School yearbook, which featured an article about the family’s plight.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Michelle Brown and daughter Shelly, 16, look through Shelly’s Bloomingdale High School yearbook, which featured an article about the family’s plight.

VALRICO — She feels she's right back where she started.

"Only worse," said Michelle Brown.

Eight months ago, Brown's husband, Greg, lost his plumbing job just after the family moved into the first home they've ever owned.

Desperate for work, Michelle finally found a job as a photographer. For a while, it seemed like things were going to be okay.

"It felt like we were going to make it out of this," she said.

Then she was let go. Michelle recently qualified for food stamps, but she's still waiting on unemployment benefits. She said the company told her she hadn't worked long enough to qualify.

Another fallout from the recession? Her marriage. While job hunting online, she said, her husband met another woman. Now the Browns are separated.

Michelle hopes to keep the house for her two children, but the bills are piling up.

She keeps the air conditioning set high and the lights off, anything to reduce spending. All her savings are gone.

The family plans to sell whatever they can to stay afloat.

The 40-year-old is determined to save the house, but she said her husband stopped paying the mortgage two months ago.

"All my life, all I wanted was a home," Brown said, "and I'm doing everything I can to keep it."

Times staff writer Sarah Hutchins can be reached at shutchins@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Faces of the recession,

an update

In September, we told you the story of how 11 Hillsborough County residents were faring in the worst recession of our times. Some struggled; others thrived. Now, as the economy begins to show signs of improvement, we check in with some of those residents for an update on their situations.

—Times Editor

Recession leaves a Hillsborough family in tatters 06/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 4:43pm]
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