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March 31, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Perilous web of home debt ensnarled Bales, wife

Paramount Equity: Families need support, not speculation

Editor, The Times:

As a longtime Seattle business that has helped thousands of local homeowners, we are deeply disappointed in The Times’ recent characterizations of Paramount Equity. [“Perilous web of home debt ensnarled Bales, wife,” page one, March 28.]

Our hearts go out to the Afghan and Bales families tragically affected by these events in the news. Right now, these families need our support, not speculation fed by partial information. Your story implies loans provided to the Bales family were improper and even “predatory.” We will honor the Bales’s privacy as it relates to their transactions with us, but frankly, we do not help families with refinancing if we can’t make their financial situation better. We would have liked the opportunity to discuss that with the reporters before the article’s publishing.

We’re acutely aware of the financial stress people have encountered the last few years. Every customer’s situation is unique, so we work hard to understand each person’s goals and identify specific solutions that meet their needs. We stand by the assistance we provided the Bales in 2006 and are proud of the fact that, even in these tough times, our company has continued to grow as a result of the help we’ve provided to many Seattle-area families.

— Michele Magee, EVP of Operations at Paramount Equity

Remove mental illness stigma

There should be no surprise in the reports of Afghans murdered by a U.S. soldier since the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration came out this year stating that 1 in every 5 Americans has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

I work in community mental health — my clients live in horrible conditions, have next to nothing in finances, and rarely have any clue where they will get their next meal.

As a citizen, this is appalling. The stigma has outlived the reality that mentally ill individuals are something besides a “person with an illness.” We won’t ever throw a cancer patient on the street, “Sorry, but you don’t qualify — no medicine for you.” Then, why in the world are we not showing the same empathy to our mentally ill citizens? Neither had a choice in the matter.

I believe it is time to refocus the societal view of mental illness through education, support and understanding rather than the grossly overused stigma that has historically done nothing more than segregate individuals for their differences.

— Jenifer L. Galvan, executive director, PEER Roots Foundation,, Everett

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