10 Years “On the Corner”
August 7, 2020
posted by Rebekah Shackelford & Rebekah Swank
Years ago, when Rachel saw a beautiful house under construction on the corner, she stopped to stare and daydream about it becoming her own. Little did she know that with the help of CHWC’s House to Home Program and her own determination, she would soon move into that very house.
Read on to learn Rachel’s story and find out why stable housing was important to her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. Rachel also says she’s close to a park, and that she has lots of approachable neighbors. “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”.
As happy as she now is, Rachel says she hasn’t always lived in a safe and stable home, or even in a good neighborhood. She grew up in low-quality housing and experienced a harsh neighborhood environment. Rachel never thought she would be able to live in a home like the one her family now occupies.
When Rachel’s daughter moved to a house in the Bethany neighborhood, where Rachel now lives, 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, Rachel’s daughter prompted her to apply. Rachel strongly doubted her eligibility, but she contacted CHWC and applied the next day. To her surprise, she was approved to rent the home, which is part of CHWC’s lease-to-purchase program (House to Home).
House to Home is designed to allow renters to become homeowners once they’ve rented for 15 years. 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 wanting to own a home, no matter how unsure they are of their eligibility, to 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 COVID-19. Before the pandemic, Rachel’s large, green lawn was home to many summertime barbecues. Her children and grandchildren used to mingle with the neighborhood kids and play in the yard, but now they are playing it safe and staying mainly indoors.
“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 and the generosity of many donors who contributed to COVID-19 funds, she was able to access support to help pay her bills and feed her family.
“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. They [CHWC] put me on my feet”. 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.