My Big Fat Foreclosure
"I have no clue where I'll be," come Friday, says Greg Staffa in a phone interview with HousingWatch. The Farmington, Minn. man claims that is when he will be thrown out of his modest townhouse into the bitter Minnesota cold at week's end -- and all because he is overweight. Oh, let's just skip the political correctness here. Because he's "fat."
Staffa's troubles began, he says, when he was injured on the job as a baggage handler for Northwest Airlines back in 2006. At the time, the now 34-year old Staffa weighed in at 275 pounds. He stands 5'9, he says.
A doctor hired by Northwest wrote a report blaming Staffa's injuries on his extra weight. That, says Staffa, led to a cascading series of events that left him unemployed and unable to pay the mortgage on his home since October 2008.
The townhouse cost him $155,000 and he had a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, he says.
"That report changed everything," Staffa tells HousingWatch, referring to the doc who called him fat. Had it not been for that report, he says he'd either still be working with his seniority intact, or he would be out on workman's comp. Either way, he would have the money to make his monthly mortgage payments, and wouldn't be in this dire situation, he says.
It wouldn't be the first time Staffa found himself without a home. For a period in 2001, he lived out of his car, and later undertook a road trip trip/publicity tour to call attention to the plight of homeless people.
Now, Staffa is using his situation -- and his flair for PR -- to take on what he sees as the widespread view that people in foreclosure are "deadbeats." His website, www.becauseimfat.com, chronicles his weight and shelter woes, and goes to lengths to demonstrate his own sense of personal responsibility. Staffa, who wears a patriotic shirt in the photo on his site, wants you to know that he's not had a credit card since 2000; that he bought a less expensive house than he qualified for; and that he's never been on welfare or food stamps. "We forget that each foreclosure is a story," he writes.I asked Staffa repeatedly if he really thought he was losing his home because he is fat. He hesitated before answering, and then went into a long explanation on how his being called fat by the doctor eventually led him to where he is at today: screwed!
If Staffa really believes that he is about to lose the roof over his head because of the fat hanging over his belt, then his current weight is not likely to help any. He has ballooned, he says, from 275 pounds back in 2006 to 290 pounds now.
Do you think Mr. Staffa's argument carries any weight?
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and the co-author of the book, "No Time To Think- The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle". He also is a regular contributor to WalletPop