PAGEDALE, Mo. — This spring, officials in this tiny city near St. Louis ordered Valarie Whitner to replace her siding; repaint her gutters, downspout and foundation; and put up screens or storm covers outside every window and blinds or curtains on the inside.
And that was before the list of demands moved on to her roof, fence and yard.
Ms. Whitner, 57, who works nights at a hospital, said she and her longtime partner felt swamped beneath the costs of paying for the city-mandated repairs and for fees, fines and court costs, which her lawyers say included at least $2,400 in violations. She took out a high-interest payday loan, which she still owes hundreds of dollars on and calls her “Pagedale money.”