At one point, Coretta Ellis and her family were living in a shelter. A former resident of Parkside Additions, Tina Pringle, had moved while the property was being redeveloped and decided she no longer wanted to be a renter . Both of these District of Columbia Housing Authority clients are now proud, first-time homeowners.
“I can honestly say that never in a million years would I have dreamt that today I stand before you as a first time homeowner,” said Ellis at DCHA’s Homeownership Month Celebration held on June 30 at MetroTowns in Northeast.
The celebration highlighted the hard work and dedication of 19 DCHA clients who graduated from the agency’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) and Homeownership Assistance programs (HOAP). Of those 19 new homeowners, 12 purchased at MetroTowns.
“Look at what we did D.C. and imagine what more we can do,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman at the celebration, who thanked the agency’s many partner organizations for helping build the affordable community and assisting clients in purchasing homes.
Another 28 clients were honored earlier in the week for achieving goals they set in FSS, such as cleaning up their credit or learning more about financial literacy. Some 132 families are currently enrolled in FSS and HOAP, many working toward the goal of owning their first home like Ellis, said Ronald McCoy, director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
After her mother had passed, Ellis moved in with relatives for a year before she went to the shelter. After six months, she moved into DCHA’s Montana Terrace and began volunteering in the rental office.
“This was where I learned of all the services that the D.C. Housing Authority had to offer—one of which was the opportunity to become a D.C. Housing Authority employee, as well as the homeownership program,” she said.
Ellis successfully applied for a staff assistant position in DCHA’s Office of Capital Programs. As a DCHA client, she also enrolled in the FSS and homeownership programs.
The programs’ staff work with clients to set goals and take the steps to achieve them. These programs offer financial literacy and consumer credit counseling classes, among others. The program works with partner organizations to help customers pursue their dreams.
“During these classes I began the uphill battle of cleaning up my credit, budgeting, and saving money,” said Pringle, who moved from public housing to a voucher shortly before enrolling in classes. “I also attended the Home Purchase Assistance Program workshops which are designed to help low-to-moderate income individuals, such as myself, purchase affordable housing in Washington, D.C.”
Clients enrolled in FSS and HOAP also establish escrow accounts to help save money towards a home purchase. Some clients take five years to graduate from the program and then have money for a down payment. Once the home is purchased, the program participants set up another savings account strictly for home repairs and attend classes on maintaining their home and budgets.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, had it not been for [these] organizations fighting to have programs in place to help individuals who just need an opportunity, I know that I would not be standing before you as a first time home buyer,” Pringle said.