The thing I keep coming back to is this: cheap mortgages generally belong to fixer uppers.
We knew going in that our utilities would be more than our mortgage. We have a 15 year note on a $40,000 loan, and our actual house payment is $312/mo. We pay $350. (This does not included taxes and insurance- that's about another $1600/yr, or about $140/mo.)
BUT... as of last year, we were paying $600/mo through the winter for heat. We got a pellet stove and new windows, and that has helped a ton, but we are still paying $700 a year (so ~$60/mo, year round) for pellets, and our other utilities (natural gas for hot water and cooking fuel, H20/sewer and garbage/recycling through the city, and electricity) total $265 a month, and we're on the budget plan for all of them. So even with that drastic reduction, we are still paying more in utilities than we are our actual house payment.
Like I said, we knew this. And we are making improvements as we can to reduce our utilities (like the pellet stove and new windows, and hopefully soon new insulation, eventually a new hot water heater and washer). But it occurs to me that, on this low of an income, any mortgage you can get is going to have high utility costs because it's probably a home in need of repair.
So, no, I don't think barely anyone could live on $14K with a mortgage.
Now, if we got our house completely remodeled AND paid off, and we had health insurance, and we got SNAP benefits, and we had no debt, including car related debt, could we live on $14K/yr? Yes. But, honestly, I think almost anyone who lives where I live could. It's a low COL area.
Cripe, lets see... $265+$350+$40+$160... those are utilities, homeowner's, property taxes, car insurance, pellets, high speed internet, Netflix, home phone, two cell phones, and gasoline. $815/mo is what it would cost us to live here and still be able to get around and have a couple little luxuries. That's under $10K/yr, but that doesn't include things like clothes and household goods. Or, obviously, food, because I'm functioning under the assumption that SNAP would cover that expense.
The problem I see in this equation is health insurance. We (that is, the adults) wouldn't qualify for Medicaid, but there's no way we'd be able to afford to buy insurance, either. We have great insurance through DH's work, but if we were living on $14K, then he would have a different job that, presumably, would NOT come with great health insurance.