10 Years “On the Corner”
August 7, 2020
by Bek Shackelford-Nwaganga; edited by Rebekah Swank
Rachel says the house she lives in is one of the prettiest on the block. It’s easy to see why she feels such pride: the home’s large, wrap-around porch and the brightly colored flowers out front seem designed to draw the attention of passersby on the adjacent street.
Not only is Rachel’s home beautiful on the outside, it is also well-situated. She lives near M.E. Pearson Elementary, so her home serves as an ideal after-school destination for her young grandchildren – and did for her children before that.
“Everybody’s friendly,” she explains, “I sit on the porch and see my regular people. They’ll come up and then wave, and I’ll wave right back . . . It’s a very nice neighborhood for anyone to live in.”
Rachel says she hasn’t always been able to access a good home and a safe neighborhood environment. She grew up in what she describes as the projects, and for many years could not access safe housing because it wasn’t affordable.
When Rachel’s daughter moved to a house in the Bethany neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas, Rachel started thinking about finding a home there too. “I always used to come through here dropping off her groceries,” Rachel said, “and I saw them working on this nice house, and I said “Oh, if I could get that house, it would be a nice home for Christmas.”
When signs were placed in the yard and the house was on the market as part of House to Home, a lease-to-purchase program offered by CHWC, Rachel’s daughter encouraged her to apply. Rachel doubted her eligibility, but she contacted CHWC and applied the next day. To her surprise, she was approved.
House to Home is designed to allow renters to become homeowners once they’ve rented for 15 years, with rent payments accumulating to provide the homeowner with a significant discount on their eventual down payment. During that time, homeowners have access to support from CHWC’s Homeownership counselors and are encouraged to improve their financial stability through individualized recommendations that might include credit improvement, building savings, getting out of debt, or other goals.
Rachel moved into her home when it was built in 2010, so she will be eligible to purchase her home in 2025. She encourages anyone else looking for housing to seek support and explore their options. “I used to always wish that I’d be able to own my own home and that when my kids came up they wouldn’t have to live in the projects,” she says. “If you see a home with a sign in the yard, or something you dream of, don’t hesitate to stop. Not all landlords say no.”
Rachel hopes to pass this home on to her children and grandchildren one day, but currently she’s focused on getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, Rachel and her family hosted summertime barbecues out on the lawn. Her children and grandchildren would play with the neighbors.
“When COVID-19 hit,” Rachel explains, “It was really a strange and sad situation. A lot of people were struggling.” Rachel went on to describe how, at first, it was hard to put food on the table, continue to buy necessities, and pay rent. Through CHWC, she was able to access three months’ worth of rent assistance to continue paying her bills.
“You know what three months can do?” she asks. “You can stock your cabinets, get your canned goods, get your kids clothes – it adds up.”
Now that things are slowly starting to return to normal, Rachel urges CHWC to pass on the help she’s received to someone else who needs it more. Having stable housing during the pandemic has been essential, and through the House to Home Program, Rachel and her family can continue to invest in their future.
Are you or someone you know looking to take ownership of your financial future or own a home? Set up time to talk with CHWC’s housing counselors today to get started on reaching your goals.