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Bank Allows Her To Skip Mortgage, But She's 'Terrified' About A Balloon Payment

A few weeks ago, Tracy Delphia and her co-workers indulged themselves with talk about what it would be like to be furloughed.

They wondered: Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a little downtime and go on unemployment? Or would it be preferable to keep your job?

Now that she has lost her job as a research analyst, Delphia is pretty sure she knows the answer: It's better to be working.

"The sense of worry about, 'Will I get to go back?' sort of overrides any enjoyment someone might have from sleeping in, in the morning, or whatever," she says.

"I never in my life wanted to be out on the job market again," she says.

Delphia, 60, has been told she will be called back as soon as business conditions improve — whenever that is. She's on unemployment and has enough money coming in to buy groceries.

Her biggest concern is her ability to pay the mortgage on her home in rural Enumclaw, Wash., an hour south of Seattle. Her lender has allowed her to defer her monthly payment, but the fine print of her mortgage says she could be forced to pay it all back with interest fairly soon.

"At this point in time, I'm still trying to squeeze out a mortgage payment and set it aside," Delphia says. "I'm pretty much terrified as to what would happen at the end of 90 days or 180 days if suddenly the bank wants thousands of dollars in a balloon payment."

In the meantime, she has been keeping busy around the house, making masks for herself, her neighbors and even the "front-line delivery people" who bring packages to her door.

"I'm getting reacquainted with my sewing machine, which I haven't used in a few years," Delphia says. "I was lucky enough to have some fabric from my quilting days here in the house."

She's also using the time to work around the house.

"This is going to be one year where I don't have any excuses about keeping weeds out of the yard."

Read more stories in Faces Of The Coronavirus Recession.

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Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.