Customer brings end to barber’s home foreclosure
An older gentleman who described himself as a World War II veteran turned up at Spokane County offices Tuesday morning and paid an $8,068.46 sewer bill that had a Spokane Valley woman facing foreclosure of her home.
The man asked that he remain anonymous, a county spokeswoman said.
“Miracles do happen,” said Brenda Grimm-Bear, owner of the home on North Willow Road that was on a list of foreclosure auctions Friday.
“I am totally amazed,” she said. “I almost had to pinch myself to make sure he was real.”
Hers was one of five homes the county planned to put up for sale this Friday to satisfy sewer bills that had not been paid in months, even years. Four homes remained on the list Tuesday morning.
Grimm-Bear, who runs her own barber shop at 21 S. Pines Road, said she has struggled financially for years and fell further behind last year when she developed a pulmonary embolism and couldn’t work. The Spokesman-Review featured her in a story on the foreclosures that ran Saturday.
She said her guardian angel showed up at her shop about 10 a.m. Tuesday and told her what he wanted to do. He also had a haircut, she said.
The man said he was a widower and that “he’d just like to be able to help,” she said.
Grimm-Bear described him as “very sweet, very nice.”
The man then apparently went to the county utilities department to write a personal check for the unpaid amount but was told the county needed a certified check because the home was in foreclosure, according to Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, communications manager for the county.
He left to get the certified check and returned shortly before noon, she said.
“It’s wonderful news,” Wheatley-Billeter said. “We are all very, very happy for her.”
She said the man told staff: “The Lord told me to do this.”
The county is closing out its first year of getting tough on unpaid sewer bills. In some cases, the bills have built up for years without payments and the county has been trying to work with property owners to get those bills paid down, county Commissioner Todd Mielke said.
Commissioners decided about a year ago to take action against the properties with the 100 highest unpaid amounts.
They also announced last spring that the county was working with SNAP to help property owners clear up their unpaid sewer bills and get control of their home finances through a grant program under the National Mortgage Settlement.
A year ago, the county had 1,850 unpaid sewer bills subject to liens worth $3.2 million. Last week, there were 1,609 liens worth $2.5 million.
Grimm-Bear is now working with SNAP to revise her home finances and set up a new payment schedule. She has unpaid property taxes for the past two years.
She said she also appreciates the help she is getting from SNAP.
But the help of the man who showed up at her shop Tuesday “blows my mind,” she said. “All’s I can say is it’s an amazing blessing.”