LaKesha Johnson always wanted to own her own home, but she just didn’t know how she could afford it.
Johnson, an 11-year voucher customer, was in the process of recertifying with the District of Columbia Housing Authority when she heard about a homeownership program the agency offered. She asked for more information and immediately signed up.
She already had a good, steady job. Her main problem was her credit. She had debt she needed to pay off. Johnson learned that to get through DCHA’s and the city’s Home Purchase Assistance Program she needed to have great credit.
“I contacted Lydia’s House. I attended that seminar. I did credit counseling ... I went through six months of credit counseling,” said Johnson. “I stopped going out to eat and things like that. Any little dollar or dime I had I put it up...It was something I had to do. I had to pay this debt off.”
In fact, her diligence was rewarded. She paid off her debt in record time and boosted her credit score. She was able to process her HPAP application. Once all of her paperwork was approved, she secured a loan through SunTrust and found a realtor.
“In that week [of finding a realtor], I was already searching for houses. We would talk every day, all night,” said Johnson.” She was really trying to help me find a house that was in my price range.”
Her search continued for seven months. She didn’t want something cheap. She didn’t want a house that was falling apart. She wanted to find the house that spoke to her, the one when she walked in she knew it was the perfect fit.
“The house I purchased I said, ‘This is the neighborhood I grew up in. I’m around the corner from my mother and she is getting older.’ I felt like this was the right purchase for me,” Johnson said.
The new homeowner also credited DCHA’s Alice Revel, a homeownership coordinator, for being so encouraging and helpful through the process. She said Revel made sure Johnson had all of the paperwork she needed. She asked the realtor questions that Johnson hadn’t thought to ask. She paid attention to the details, Johnson said.
“There were long transitions and times I wanted to give up and she said, ‘No! This is yours. You are almost there.’ She kept pushing me,” said Johnson. During the closing process, the banks and realtors kept asking for more and more documents. Johnson continued to produce them all with Revel’s support. “She helped me through the process and I am really grateful to her.”
She continued, “I love homeownership. I would not change anything to get from where I came from where Iam. I love being in my own home, not answering to a landlord. If something goes wrong I can fix it on my own.”
Through DCHA’s homeownership program, Johnson was able to use her voucher to support her mortgage for 15 years. All of the classes and counseling she attended helped her to qualify for the program.
“It is such a great accomplishment for me to be able to own a home,” Johnson said. “I did [envision it] I just didn’t know how. The housing authority made it possible.”
She summarized her experience to encourage future homeowners.
“You can do it. If you put your mind to wanting a home for yourself and your family to grow in, you can do it. Anything is possible if you make the necessary changes to make it happen.”