Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Neighbor buys back vet’s house

A FRIEND IN NEED:The 96-year-old’s neighbor became worried after the couple found out about the foreclosure on their home and started talking about suicide

By Tsai Ching-huaand William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A man surnamed Chang, left, and his visually impaired wife talk to reporters in their home in Kaohsiung on Friday last week.

Photo: Tsai Ching-hua, Taipei Times

The neighbor of a 96-year-old veteran in Kaohsiung has bought back the man’s home after it went into foreclosure, saving the man and his visually impaired wife from homelessness.

The man, surnamed Chang (張), said his 42-year-old daughter does not work regularly due to her drug addiction and that he and his wife barely see her. Chang said his daughter took out a mortgage without his knowledge and did not make the payments, which he only found out about when the bank delivered a foreclosure notice to his house.

Fearing Chang and his wife would be left homeless, neighbors collected more than NT$3 million (US$94,589) from friends and relatives to buy back the house.

Lu Wei-jun (呂緯濬) of the Kaohsiung Police Department’s Fongshan Precinct said he received a report from the local branch of KGI Bank saying that an elderly man was looking to withdraw his savings to buy back a foreclosed home. Lu said that at the time he believed it was a case of attempted fraud.

An investigation revealed that the local community came to the elderly couple’s aid, Lu said, adding that “the warmth of the people is the most beautiful aspect of Taiwan.”

Chang, a former soldier, said he moved to Taiwan in his 20s when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled China.

He said his life in Kaohsiung’s Fongshan District (鳳山) is barely sustained by a small monthly pension and social welfare, adding that things have been particularly difficult since his wife began to lose her eyesight three years ago.

Chang’s long-time neighbor in the military dependents’ village, surnamed Yang (楊), is known in the community due to the fruit stand he runs and he became particularly close to the Changs about 10 years ago.

At that time, the elderly couple, recovering from a bad fall, relied on Yang to care for them and bring them medicine.

Chang said that since then Yang has regularly stopped by to check up on them.

Yang said he became worried after the Changs found out about the foreclosure on their home and started talking about suicide.

Yang attended the auction for the Changs’ home, but was outbid. He approached the other bidder, who was reluctant to relinquish the property until Yang told him about the Changs’ talk of suicide. The bidder then agreed to sell the property to Yang for the original auction amount.

Yang’s wife said she hoped the Changs would now be able to stay in the house they are familiar with.

“We really are not the angels you make us out to be, we just worried that Mr Chang would be up all night worrying — that would leave us feeling sorry for the rest of our lives,” she said.

Chang refused to accept their charity and it was only when Yang agreed to take a NT$500,000 deposit from his neighbor that he agreed to stay in the house, the neighbors said.

“I know they are kind people, but rent that should be paid must be paid. You cannot take advantage of people,” Chang said.

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