Roberto Hernandez, 50, finishes work on a transmission at his auto repair shop on the North Side. Eight years ago Hernandez used $40,000 he had saved in 20 years working at Zenith Radio Corp. to open Hernandez's Auto Repair of Chicago at the corner of West Lawrence and North Kilbourn avenues. About a year after he opened the shop, he and his wife divorced. He received half the proceeds of selling their house -- $139,000. He used some of that money to buy a two-flat for $427,000. He spent $25,000 fixing up the basement so he could live there and rented the two apartments. Things looked bright until the tenants stopped paying. One, Hernandez said, didn't pay rent for 10 months. When Hernandez tried to evict the tenant, he said a judge told him he couldn't because the man was unemployed, had a young daughter and a sick wife. Ultimately, he lost the two-flat. Hernandez said his shop needs to make $17,000 a month to break even. In February, he fell $1,500 short and dug into savings to get by. "I know that God will help me and I'll be OK again," he said. Get the full story.
Tribune photo by Chris Walker
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