Prelude-Since 2008, the economy and the housing fall have affected many. As one walks around some of the middle class neighborhoods, one sees the strength and the diversity of the community but also the difficulties. This story has several parts and here is the first.

Every morning she enjoyed the same walk with Fist, her pug. They walked out the door across the street and then turned right at the corner past an old house with eight cars in the driveway next door to several houses which she wasn’t sure of the owners. As she continued walking past the new “For Rent” sign greeted her. $1500 3 bedroom/1 bathroom. Then next door was another home for sale: a small brick home with a dented garage door. As she turned the corner walking past the mixed tough looking group of teenagers heading off to the park, there was a dingy home further down. This was usually where the dog pood. As he pood, she would usually glance toward the house nearest the sidewalk. There was a family living there and often as they left; they would say hello to her. She enjoyed watching the family inside as it was an extended family with the grandfather who stayed home all day, the mother, father, and a daughter who she hadn’t seen in awhile. The father had a motorcycle and the mom seemed very easy going and almost as if she might make a great friend. There was a beautiful wire wheel barrow basket that was rusted out and moved to the side of the house. Often, Tamara watched it almost wanting to inquire of the family if they would sell it to her for her garden. She thought she could fix it up nicely and put it in the back garden.

This morning though the windows were drawn with blankets. There was no one there and the corner of the block was eerily quiet. Tamara continued her walk to her friend, the cat lady. She was called the cat lady because she fed cats. The cats were lined up usually with 3 or 4 plates piled with dry cat food. One day, Tamara had met the cat lady wheeling one of the cats around in a stroller because the cat was not well and had hurt its leg. The lady’s garage was always open. In a neighborhood which bordered on unsafe; Tamara felt very protective of the woman. She didn’t think it was safe to leave the garage door open. Often in the morning, she would meet some of the elementary students at the corner near the cat lady’s house waiting for the school bus. They were a rowdy bunch of students at times and Tamara worried about the cat lady. The cat lady’s name was Jane she learned from talking with her. Jane had been working at Albertsons and was the manager of the deli; she had worked there for over 30 years until she slipped and was retired with disability. As they exchanged small talk, Tamara admired the front stone entryway of the house which had a rocking chair. Kathy invited her to sit down and Tamara did.