Helping A Neighbor?

Lounge By Jess155 Updated 21 Sep 2011 , 9:14pm by Karema

Jess155 Posted 18 Sep 2011 , 7:51pm
post #1 of 31

We've lived next door to a guy (I'll call him Tim) for over 6 years now. He's never held a steady job in those 6 years. He lives off disablity (even though he used to mow lawns and snow-blow driveways for cash around the neighborhood- so clearly NOT disabled).

He's got lots of friends that come over and one friend who is apparently living at the house too now. Friend doesn't have a job either. So they got their power cut off for failure to pay - although they still order Schwann's and buy cigarettes.

It's getting cold up here in Minnesota lately, and I am thinking about paying his power bill for him. The power was cut almost 2 weeks ago, so all their food is gone, although they do have food stamps. We're dropping off a hot dinner for them tonight.

I want to help a neighbor in need. I don't want to have him come back next month and ask me to pay his bill again. We can't afford to adopt a 50+ year old guy who really should be taking care of his own junk.

Also - the house is paid for, so it won't be forclosed on. He owes back taxes for about 5 years, so in about 2 years (I think) the county will take it away tax-forfeit.

What would you do?

30 replies
BlakesCakes Posted 18 Sep 2011 , 8:17pm
post #2 of 31

My DH & I have helped many people directly, but in all honesty, we do it for people who are clearly scrambling to help themselves and still can't quite clear the edge of the hole.

We do NOT give direct aid to people who are squandering whatever they have. Is that judgemental? You bet it is. We feel that if they're not making good choices for themselves, our aid isn't suddenly going to cause them to do a 180............

There's a lot of "learned helplessness" in the world today. People expecting to be handed fish instead of bothering to learn how to fish for themselves.

No, I wouldn't pay the bill. I'd give him a list of the appropriate agencies--I'm sure that a cold place like MN has many organizations and churches that help with utility bills. I might even contact a few myself and submit his name for help.

You pay the bill and when he comes to you next month to do it again--and you refuse--you get the guilt and become the bad guy...........how is that fair???? Maybe if they spend some time in the dark, they'll WANT find their own way out.

Rae

Valkstar Posted 18 Sep 2011 , 8:30pm
post #3 of 31

My parents had a neighbour like this. They started dropping hot dinners in, then at Christmas there was a few cigarettes etc. and it soon started getting out of hand. He would knock in and ask for a "lend" of a few pound. My mother had to say they hadn't got the money etc. and it got a bit awkard.

If you really want to do something for him, the odd casserole or stew would be good. It could last a few days and keep him well nourished. I think paying bills would be opening yourself up to all sorts of trouble.

kakeladi Posted 18 Sep 2011 , 9:39pm
post #4 of 31

I agree w/the others.
I am active on a web site that help people out in all kinds of way.
I look at how long they have been a member on the site and how many others they have helped vs how many times their wishes were answered. If it's been say a yr (or more) and they have never helped anyone else I bypass that request.
It's if you can't ever help by just sending a card to someone in a yr but have asked for things yhourself lots of time then you really don't my limited help.

Jess155 Posted 18 Sep 2011 , 11:31pm
post #5 of 31

Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to wait a couple days and see if someone pays the bill. I just can't imagine sitting there without power for 2 weeks. They can't cook, have a hot shower, wash clothes, store any food in the refridgerator, etc. Ugh. Apparently the friend got a job - DH talked to him for a minute while dropping off some food for them. Neighbor "Tim" didn't even come to the door to say thank you. He was in the house, but stayed hidden. Just weird.

MnSnow Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 3:21am
post #6 of 31

Another option since he is disabled, he is considered a vulnerable adult. You can contact the county and request a social worker go there to do a welfare check on this vulnerable adult

Jess155 Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 3:47am
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by MnSnow

Another option since he is disabled, he is considered a vulnerable adult. You can contact the county and request a social worker go there to do a welfare check on this vulnerable adult




I'm not sure how that works, what would they do? I don't want to speed the process of getting his house taken away from him, he's doing a fine job of that on his own. icon_rolleyes.gif

myslady Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 12:34pm
post #8 of 31

There are utility assistance programs he may be able to qualify for. If you contact adult protective services they can make a home visit if they feel it is warranted. You can also contact your local area on aging and see if they have any recommendations.

lilcakebaker Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 6:58pm
post #9 of 31

I wouldn't get too involved in contacting adult protective services. We as neighbors don't know all the underlying circumstances surrounding his situation. If its down right obvious that he needs assistance then sure, but just remember he is going to have a pretty good idea as to who turned them onto him.

He could be disabled even though he is able to do a little work around the neighborhood. Again you don't know all the circumstances. I always get looks when I park in a handicapped space simply because Im young. I even get comments thrown at me. People don't realize that my leg was torn off in a car accident by a drunk driver when I was 18 (they were able to reattach it) and that walking is very difficult and that I have a 2 inch difference in my leg. That being said simply as an example.

However I do agree with the rest as far as paying his electric bill. There are plenty of agencies, non-profit etc...that have special programs. Maybe you can help him fill out the paper work? Show him how to help himself.

cakemama22 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 1:04am
post #10 of 31

If you don't want him to be coming back asking for more, but you would still like to help him out, I would do it anonymously. Leave food with a note on the doorstep. Maybe contact the electric company and find out if you can pay his bill anonymously. I don't know if they would let you do that, but you never know.

Jess155 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 1:25am
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakemama22

Maybe contact the electric company and find out if you can pay his bill anonymously. I don't know if they would let you do that, but you never know.




I'm going to call them tomorrow. I don't know if they'll tell me how much he owes, but it's worth a try.

Texas_Rose Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 2:24am
post #12 of 31

I think you're really sweet for wanting to help him.

With some people there's a fine line between helping them and enabling them. I think giving someone a hand up is great, but with some people, you give them a hand out and then they just keep coming back for more.

You should look on your electric company's website and see if they have info on payment assistance, or a list of charities, that you could suggest to your neighbor. Maybe if he was calling one of the charities and you really, really wanted to pay his electric bill, you could call the charity and make a donation in the amount that they were paying for him...that way he doesn't keep coming back for more.

And about the Schwan's food, last I heard they accept food stamps so that's probably how he was affording that.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 2:38am
post #13 of 31

If you look at things from a different perspective, since he receives disability he should be more than capable of paying his bills on his own, but he lacks either the knowledge or the motivation to budget his money properly. If his most important expenses (food, utilities) end up being paid by other people he can continue to spend his money frivolously, and as long as he has friends and neighbors with enough patience and money to put up with him he won't have any impetus to improve his life.

Now if there's a knowledge problem, Adult Protective Services would be able to help by providing assistance with classes and have a case worker help him directly with things like budgeting. Since you don't know if there's a knowledge or a motivation problem, I would play it safe by contacting Adult Protective Services. If there's no knowledge problem, then the case will be closed. But if there is something that's not connecting from a mental perspective APS can be a huge help. There's really no downside to this.

And BTW you are already helping him out (albeit indirectly) by paying into your state's disability program with each paycheck. Plus, since he has not paid his property taxes everyone in your community is also supporting him by paying for his share of schools, infrastructure improvements, and anything else property tax pays for.

Regarding food and power, there are several facilities (many of which are again funded by your tax dollars) that can provide free meals and a warm place to sleep:
http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/foodbanks/MNfoodbanks.html
http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/minnesota.html

lilcakebaker Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 3:04am
post #14 of 31

Jason - I'm not trying to be a butt head and I agree with most of what you said, however I highly he doubt he makes enough money to pay his bills if his only source of income is disability. At the very most IF he is on SSDI instead of SSI he probably brings in around 1000 each month. If he is on SSI it is going to be a lot less. Now I don't know how the electric,gas,water etc runs in MN but it sure wouldn't get you far in AZ or in just about any other state.

The guy sounds like he needs help and I think its great that she is willing to do something for someone else...Good Job!

Jess155 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 3:18am
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

And about the Schwan's food, last I heard they accept food stamps so that's probably how he was affording that.




I didn't know that. That's probably it. He also gets food from food shelves and stuff, but when you have no electricity to cook the food and no refridgeration to store the food, It's a bad situation.

About the social service programs, I'm sure he knows more about free help than I do. He's worked the system for a long time. What he needs is a new attitude. But I hate seeing people suffering - even when it is their own dumb fault. Like I told my DH tonight, I feel like I care more about his electricity than he does. icon_rolleyes.gif All I know is if I were in his situation, and my life was that messed up, I sure would appreciate a kind gesture and some electricity.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 3:42am
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilcakebaker

If he is on SSI it is going to be a lot less. Now I don't know how the electric,gas,water etc runs in MN but it sure wouldn't get you far in AZ or in just about any other state.



I believe SSI disability benefits are $674/month, are you saying electric + gas + water costs more than that in MN?

lilcakebaker Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 3:55am
post #17 of 31

I have no idea, I don't live in MN as I stated in my previous comment. However my electric bill was 350 dollars last month and lets not get into my other utility payments. I know that I could not make it on that and neither could most adults.

I was just stating that he doesn't make a lot of money if on SSI, Im sure he could use some assistance.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 4:08am
post #18 of 31

SSI + food stamps + various other low-income programs are designed so you can live independently without private assistance, if you set a budget and stick to it. From what OP has said, it sounds like the neighbor could definitely use assistance, but IMO that assistance should not be in the form of more cash.

Jess155 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 12:56pm
post #19 of 31

Our electric, gas and water total around $200 a month. And we have 4 kids which means constant laundry, and at least 2 loads of dishes a day. There's no way his bill is as much as ours. And like I said, his house is paid for, so no mortgage.

TexasSugar Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 2:22pm
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess155


About the social service programs, I'm sure he knows more about free help than I do. He's worked the system for a long time. What he needs is a new attitude. But I hate seeing people suffering - even when it is their own dumb fault. Like I told my DH tonight, I feel like I care more about his electricity than he does. icon_rolleyes.gif All I know is if I were in his situation, and my life was that messed up, I sure would appreciate a kind gesture and some electricity.




If he knows how to work the system, he also probably knows how to work people.

I think honestly your best bet is to contact the adult protective services, and not get involved financially by paying his bills.

I seriously doubt the electric company will give you any information about his bill, how much he owes or anything else. I know when my mom handled her dad's bills that he had to tell the person on the phone it was okay for them to talk to her, even though all his bills went to her address and she paid them, it's the name on the account that is important.

I think it's a great thing that you want to help out people in need. I do think though, even by your own statement that you need to be careful about it. If you are more worried about his bills than he is, I'd be afraid that you will end up getting to involved and maybe even suckered into doing way more for him than you need to. There is doing for others, and there is helping them do for themselves.

Jess155 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 2:28pm
post #21 of 31

Well I just called the utility company. They couldn't give me the amount, which I kind of expected. They did say "You're not going to be able to pay it, it's a very substantial amount". I'm thinking probably $600-$800? Probably 4 months of unpaid bills plus the reconnection fee. He ran his window air conditioning unit all summer, day and night. It was not necessary.

I don't want him to freeze to death when I could help. And he will blame everyone else for not helping him. I'm mad that he doesn't seem to want to help himself. He's got a victim mentality.

TexasSugar Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 3:13pm
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess155

I don't want him to freeze to death when I could help. And he will blame everyone else for not helping him. I'm mad that he doesn't seem to want to help himself. He's got a victim mentality.




I can understand you not wanting him to freeze, but the colder weather is just starting (well apparently up there anyway) so are you prepared to pay his bills all winter? Because honestly if he didn't pay 3 or 4 months of it, you paying one isn't going to make him turn around and pay others.

Again I would contact Adult Protective Services. They can come in and access the situation and figure out what needs to be done to help him in the long run, not just for the immediate time frame.

Herekittykitty Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 5:57pm
post #23 of 31

Yes, it is getting cold here already, really early - oh happy-happy-joy-joy. thumbsdown.gif

My heating costs top $250 through the winter months keeping the house at 63 degrees (it's an old, drafty house). So depending on the condiditon of his house, which considering he isn't paying bills probably isn't good, his winter bills could be significantly more than yours just to keep it somewhat bearable.

It's comendable that you are compassionate enought to want to help your fellow man; however, it sounds like he isn't willing to help himself; be careful not to dig your family in a hole trying to help. It's easy to do when your heart is big.

lilcakebaker Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 11:23pm
post #24 of 31

All I have to say is I wish my utility bills were as low as all of yours seem to be! Anyone want to loan me some money to pay my 350 dollar electric bill and 100 water bill? We won't get into the rest of my utilities!

Jess155 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 11:53pm
post #25 of 31

Thank you for all your advice. I want to help, not enable, and it's hard to know where that line is sometimes I guess.

DH talked to neighbor Tim tonight a bit. Tim apparently had his gas cut off in the spring, which we didn't know. Now that his electricity is off, he's basically camping in his house. His mom (who owed the house) died about a year and a half ago. The house is in probate, and once it's in Tim's and his sister's names, they will sell it. So really he has no means and no motivation to get his power back or fix up his house at all. It's the worst house in a very nice neighborhood. It will either be sold willingly within the next year or sold at auction if the county takes it away for unpaid taxes.

I think he'll sell before it gets too cold. Otherwise, I know he does have a lot of friends. He could probably crash with them if it's too cold.

I don't know what he'll do after that. I don't think he's thought about that. It's just a sad, sad situation.

Karema Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 11:56pm
post #26 of 31

It sounds to me that you may not want to really help him. I think that if you have to question yourself on whether you should help than maybe you shouldn't. What I'm saying is that if you help then do it and don't ever talk about it bc you are doing it from your heart and you think that the person is deserving of your help. If you have to think twice about it maybe you should just leave it alone. I have a sister in law that as long as people will help her she won't do. I had to learn to leave her alone and say that is her problem. Even though I see her kids suffering I have to mind my business bc she won't do better. On the other hand my mother is on SSI and she only gets $697 per month and she has a hard time making it month to month bc they give her such little food stamps and she runs out of food mid month and has to pay cash. Several ppl in our church has blessed her and given her money and she is thankful bc that is how she is able to buy shoes and clothes. So to make a long story short if you want to help then help and maybe find a way you can do it without him knowing it is you so you don't feel obligated. BTW you never know what his disablity is. He could be a vet and have PTSD. You never now so you shouldn't judge based on him able to do work for money. JMHO I think it's great that you are helping and being a blessing to others.
Karema

Jess155 Posted 21 Sep 2011 , 1:35am
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karema

It sounds to me that you may not want to really help him. I think that if you have to question yourself on whether you should help than maybe you shouldn't. What I'm saying is that if you help then do it and don't ever talk about it bc you are doing it from your heart and you think that the person is deserving of your help. If you have to think twice about it maybe you should just leave it alone. I have a sister in law that as long as people will help her she won't do. I had to learn to leave her alone and say that is her problem. Even though I see her kids suffering I have to mind my business bc she won't do better. On the other hand my mother is on SSI and she only gets $697 per month and she has a hard time making it month to month bc they give her such little food stamps and she runs out of food mid month and has to pay cash. Several ppl in our church has blessed her and given her money and she is thankful bc that is how she is able to buy shoes and clothes. So to make a long story short if you want to help then help and maybe find a way you can do it without him knowing it is you so you don't feel obligated. BTW you never know what his disablity is. He could be a vet and have PTSD. You never now so you shouldn't judge based on him able to do work for money. JMHO I think it's great that you are helping and being a blessing to others.
Karema




I think if it were a single mom trying hard to make it and struggling, I would help in a heartbeat without question. In this case, I was weighing my options and wanted to err on the side of kindness. But it sounds like he's just given up. I agree, I don't know the extent of his "disability", but I do know he's not a vet and he's got a problem with anything resembling the truth. I've got a brother who is 20 years younger than Tim, but he has pretty much the same attitude. I hope he figures this out soon or he'll end up homeless.

Karema Posted 21 Sep 2011 , 2:10am
post #28 of 31

So what I stated earlier is correct you didn't want to help him... Well then leave the situation alone and just pray for him. That would do more for him anyway then talking about him. BTW you don't know my SIL she is a nut trust me. She has used up all her family and constantly states no one wants to help her and poor her bc she is a single mom but my point is to her that you chose to be a single mom bc you kept getting knocked up by losers when you didn't even know them (long story) lol But anyway just pray for the man for wisdom and guidance from up above....

Jess155 Posted 21 Sep 2011 , 3:28am
post #29 of 31

[quote="Karema"]So what I stated earlier is correct you didn't want to help him... quote]

Well I'm not sure anyone WANTS to pay an $800 debt someone else made foolishly. But I would've done it willingly (and anonymously) if he had a plan for continuing to pay on his own after this. As it is, he doesn't have a plan or care to make a plan. He has friends that he can stay with when the weather gets too cold. If it would help him get on his feet, I would've done it. But after DH talking with him, he's not wanting to get on his feet, he says he wants to sell the house and really has no plan farther than that.

Trust me, I am helping him by not turning him in to the county code enforcement officers for the 5 non-working vehicles that have been sitting in his driveway and his yard for the last 2 years. I am helping him by giving him a hot meal here and there. So yes, I do want to help him. I do not want to enable him. Just because he makes stupid choices doesn't mean I don't want to help him. Everyone makes stupid choices at some point in life.

Herekittykitty Posted 21 Sep 2011 , 2:14pm
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilcakebaker

All I have to say is I wish my utility bills were as low as all of yours seem to be! Anyone want to loan me some money to pay my 350 dollar electric bill and 100 water bill? We won't get into the rest of my utilities!




My mom lives in AZ, I can't believe how high the utilities are!

If he doesn't get the heat turned back on by winter (nov/dec) they may have a real problem selling that house as the pipes could burst. As you know OP, Minnesota winters are not forgiving. Maybe his sister has more sense and will do what is necessary to at least keep it in sellable condition. I would bring him blankets or food if you want to help but no money. He wouldn't be grateful and would probably begin to expect your family to provide for him.

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