On November 19, 2015, Compass hosted a national roundtable on integrating asset building and financial capability strategies into subsidized housing programs, inspired by our work with local families in our program model for the federal Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. As part of the day's events, we invited Tanya - a graduate of the FSS program that we operated in Lynn and a new homeowner - to talk about her experience. Here is what she shared:
If anyone would have said five years ago that I could become a homeowner, I would have assumed they were crazy. And that’s exactly what I thought of Compass staff when I heard them talk about their FSS Program.
They were so passionate about their program and in their belief that families like mine really could get ahead and reach big dreams such as buying a home. The “All-American Dream”: a dream that in my eyes was only a reality for people with money, for young adults with parents that were well off and could afford to buy them a home, for a married couple putting their money together, or even for someone who wins the lottery. But I was none of those and that reality just wasn’t for me.
But sitting at an orientation, as I heard the Compass staff talk about being in my shoes and how other families in my same situation had been successful, something triggered. Could I really be one of those success stories? Me, a single mother of two teenagers? Me, the youngest of three sisters? Sisters I have always admired and followed in their footsteps. They all went to college, so I went to college, too. But could this be my turn? Could this be an opportunity to make the people I love proud and make them want to follow in my footsteps? The challenge was on!
I joined the program and believe me, it was hard. I had to change my way of thinking, my spending habits, and I had to deal with my credit. I could no longer go shopping on the weekends because now I had to save. I could no longer take my annual trips to my home country – the Dominican Republic – during tax season, because now I had to pay down debt and fix my credit. I had to even start saying “no” to my kids (and that was hard) because now I had a goal that I had to work toward.
During my financial coaching sessions, my coach would encourage me to stay focused. She would tell me things like, “Tanya stop using your credit cards, remember your house!” I would leave appointments feeling inspired and animated. And finally, the time had come. I was ready to buy!
Compass, again, was there to walk me through the maze of the home buying process. From enrolling in the first-time homebuyer’s course, to getting pre-approvals and down payment assistance, to going above-and-beyond and physically accompanying me to see some properties.
I felt reassured every step of the way. I would have given up, but they, those Compass staff, were there encouraging me, assisting me, supporting me until I reached my goal. The first in my family to reach the “All-American Dream.” I bought my own home. It was one of the proudest moments in my life.
But what makes me happiest of all, is seeing how my children love their new home. My 19-year-old son, Michael, has a finished basement all to himself. It’s like his own mini apartment. He feels like he’s king of his world. And my 16-year-old daughter, Marielys, has her own room, when before she had to share. My foster child has her own bedroom, too. And as for me, the queen of the house, my bedroom suite is on its own floor, complete with a master bathroom, beautiful outdoor patio and a walk-in closet that is to die for!
Thanks to Compass and their staff, now I too believe that families like mine can get ahead, live better, and accomplish our big dreams and goals such as buying a home.
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