Against the Wall: Collingswood Man Crowdfunding to Make Rent

Unemployed at 55, Mark DeLoatch is turning to crowdfunding to help him keep the Collingswood apartment in which he's lived for 20-plus years.

Mark DeLoatch, 55, said he is at a loss as to how he'll proceed without full-time work in this economy. Credit: Mark DeLoatch.
Mark DeLoatch, 55, said he is at a loss as to how he'll proceed without full-time work in this economy. Credit: Mark DeLoatch.

In 2011, Mark DeLoatch was let go from the mail room job he'd had with Lincoln Financial Group for 23 years.

That's two years earlier than he had planned to step away from the position, but it put the Collingswood man at a disadvantage.

At 55, DeLoatch had lived at Heights of Collingswood long enough to remember when the place was called Sutton Towers. He figured his 401k would be enough to support the cost of living in the same apartment while he found a new job.

But two years later, with his retirement money gone and no job prospects, DeLoatch was out of options. He'd had little success with the state employment and welfare agencies, to which he was reluctant to turn in the first place.

"I’d rather work than get welfare," DeLoatch said. "The whole social welfare thing is a rat maze that I can’t stand going through."

"I thought, 'No problem, I’ll continue looking for a job'."

The unemployment office first set DeLoatch up with "Experience Works," a state job training program that he said he "was caught up in bureaucracy," and then another called WorkForce 55+, intended for older New Jerseyans.

Although he fits the program description technically—"a few tricks with the razor" and he can take off a few years for a job interview—DeLoatch said he's only gotten "an occasional nibble" for the "hundreds of applications" he's submitted. 

"I had a couple of close-but-no-cigar chances," DeLoatch said. "A lot of them say that my resume is impressive and then I don’t hear from them again. 

"Right now, I’d take anything," he said. "My only requirement is I want full-time work."

So DeLoatch decided to put his fate in the hands of the people: he started a crowdfunding campaign dubbed the "Housing and Homeless Prevention Fund," seeking enough money to cover the cost of his rent for the next year.

"If I can get the rent paid, or even just get enough so I can get a couple of months of rent and expenses where I can get a job, I will have some money to help keep a roof over my head, put food on my table, even feed my cat," DeLoatch said.

DeLoatch isn't the first person to take advantage of crowdfunding to fund a personal cause, but his story underscores at once the desperation of a bleak job market as well as the digital innovations by which some people are trying to overcome its limitations.

"I’ve done everything this society has asked me to do, and now that I’m in my time of need, they turn their backs on me, and I’m angry and depressed," DeLoatch said.

"A lot of us are suffering in silence. I don’t want to suffer in silence."

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Mark DeLoatch January 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Thank you for presenting my case. I already got a job prospect from your article and I am going to pursue this. My present situation is this: I am in the WFNJ [Work Force NJ] program from Camden County Social Services. I have to document my job search every day, but it is nothing that I have previously endured for the last 2 1/2 years, so forgive me for my cynicism. On the other hand, I need $500 before Monday to keep the landlord off my back and I need even more money for February rent and for other bills. My crowd funding site is way too slow and still is severely underfunded. Some days I think if outside of my friends and family, my race is part of the problem [you know, put the face of some cute white toddler and people will flood the site with money]. Despite it all, I am doing what is required of me, and I am hoping to find a way to get by. Thanks for putting my story out there. Everything done to help me is appreciated. Remember I will thank each donor to my fund personally in appreciation.
Loretka January 29, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Good luck. I hope you get the job so your worries will be over. Maybe more job prospects will also come.
Mike King January 31, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Dear Mark, my company will hire and train you for licensing w/State Dept of Banking and Insurance as a Public Adjuter Claims Rep. After that there are several directions you can go - or you can continue to rep. You get back all of the upfront costs (finger prints, test, bond, license) w/the first 3 trainee claims, unless you're smarter than me and you get the claims first. As an urban school teacher, the downside for me was leaping from salary to commission but it appears you've already made that leap w/your crowdfunding project. Age and race are non-issues at Metro Public Adjustment. We've got both retired/riffed and current teachers, firefighters, and more, advocating for homeowners part time or full time according to their needs. And we're hiring right now. If you're interested in learning more about Metro, call Mike at 609.372. 8379 and best of luck whatever you do.


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