From Bankruptcy to First Time Homeowner
Ms. Quinones was a hopeful homebuyer who came to Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) in late 2009, still recovering from financial hardships and having filed bankruptcy a year and a half earlier. She joined a homebuyer orientation and counseling session, where NHN provided an affordability analysis, informed her that she’d need to wait at least 4 years since her bankruptcy was discharged, and provided her with tips to re-establish a strong credit history in the meantime. Eventually, NHN also helped Ms. Quinones join the First Home Club matching savings program through HSBC, which allowed her to receive a $7,500 matching grant, a great help as she worked on her budgeting and saving towards a downpayment. When she was ready to purchase an affordable co-op in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 2013, NHN helped her obtain a SONYMA mortgage with a discounted interest rate. By an additional stroke of luck, NHN was also able to help her obtain a $30,000 grant from the Wells Fargo CityLift Downpayment Assistance Program. NHN staff have run into Ms. Quinones several times since she closed, and she continues to express how happy she is with her apartment and with the counseling assistance that she received.
"Equal Doses of Desire and Self-Discipline"
Ms. Valeria Sanchez, a divorced mother of four, attended Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement's (HCCI) Home Buyer Education Workshop in the spring of 2014 and learned the steps involved in buying a home. HCCI’s financial coach worked closely with Ms. Sanchez, and with equal doses of desire and self-discipline she successfully raised her credit score by 60 points AND increased her savings by eliminating wasteful spending. Shortly afterward she began working with a real estate agent to find an affordable home. Through her homeownership education course at HCCI she received a Home Buyer Education Certificate of Completion, allowing Ms. Sanchez to obtain an affordable mortgage product for first-time buyers that provided her with a $5000 closing cost grant and no PMI (private mortgage insurance).
Finally On the Path To Homeownership
Jimmy and Tahisha Smith wanted to buy a home for several years. Although Jimmy earned a decent income, he had no credit history. Because of monthly living expenses, the couple had managed to save very little money. They both attended HCCI’s Home Buyer Education Workshop in the fall of 2013 and learned effective strategies to increase their monthly savings and how to establish credit histories. Their home advisor told them it would take some time - but the couple practiced patience. After taking the HCCI workshop they were finally on the path to homeownership. They continued to increase their savings and, by making smart decisions, Jimmy’s credit score consistently improved, eventually breaking 700. Jimmy and Tahisha found an ideal home within their price range and were able to secure a mortgage for the property.
One Aspiring Homeowner
One aspiring homeowner, Michelle Bueno, said “housing counseling made the key difference in her ability to buy a home."
The Hempstead, New York resident first sought help in 2010 at the Long Island Housing Partnership in Hauppauge. The program receives grants for housing counseling through various grants from lenders, local and state agencies as well as private corporations and foundations.
Bueno, 42, met with her housing counselor, JoAnn Massaro, who advised her to clear up credit problems and build up her savings in advance of beginning the home buying process. JoAnn spent time working with Michelle over the course of time, offering support and advice as needed.
Five years later, after paying down old debts, Bueno is on track to buy a three-bedroom town house to be built in North Hempstead, New York. The home's sale price is nearly $315,000, but JoAnn Massaro helped her get $118,000 in local, county and state grants, in addition to approval for a low-interest mortgage through a state program for first-time home buyers.
The counselor urged her to "not give up, go forward and do everything you need to do," recalled Bueno, who works as a surgical technologist and has two sons, ages 6 and 11. "I was determined to do the right thing for myself and my children." At this time Michelle and her family are anticipating moving into their new home in New Cassel, Long Island by the end of this year as soon as the construction is complete.