I can remember being very nervous many many years ago, when I had just one year left on my relocation package from Chicago to Washington DC to use the $3000 closing cost benefit and I simply wasn’t ready to buy. I had not saved money for down payment or even identified a good neighborhood. I didn’t want to lose the $3000 closing cost benefit which was a lot of money back then. As a young professional living in DC, I had maybe one friend who already owned a home. Even after living in Chicago, I was still dumbfounded by the idea that my first place would cost at least 3 times what my parents paid for their home. And it would not be as nice or as big as the homes in my hometown of Milwaukee. I was not working in affordable housing or non-profits at the time and I had big aspirations for a large home, in a great neighborhood, with good schools.
Fast forward decades later, my vocation is to enable this dream of homeownership for thousands of people as a community development practitioner. Personally and professionally, it has been rewarding to see people push back their fears to start and complete their journey of homeownership.
I was afraid back then to buy my first home. I remember reading articles about discrimination against Blacks and women. I read stories of discriminatory practices such as redlining or African Americans being charged higher interest rates. I didn’t know if I could trust the realtors or lenders that I met. So I did some research. I learned about down payment assistance and strolled into a nonprofit to inquire if I was eligible. This was my first exposure to housing counseling. Taking advantage of the opportunity to learn the home buying process and get some hand holding took the sting out of all that negative information. Owning a home has not only been financially beneficial, but it has allowed me to have an asset I can pass on and most importantly, it has been a place to build great memories with my friends and family.
Owning my home allowed me to tinker with my interest in interior design and to create a place of peace and refuge.
Still seeking peace, one of my goals this year was to strengthen my spiritual walk. I made it a point to get to church, bought myself a cute little Bible carrier from BoomTown, and vowed I would actually do some bible reading this year. As I sat in church flipping through the pages, I saw a donation envelope from a church I attended so long ago I am embarrassed to say the number of years. Despite its age, my Bible looked brand new from disuse. I realized I had taken for granted a millennium of wisdom that was just sitting in my trunk or house all these many years.
Permit me to make a modest analogy about wisdom. Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida has been serving South Florida for over 40 years. I calculate the current team has over 120 years of housing counseling and lending experience just waiting for you to call upon us. Ultimately, it is up to you to take advantage of the wealth of resources we have to help you stride confidently into homeownership…whether you are a first time homebuyer or back in the market, we can help. My team and I are working hard to keep our educational resource and one on one counseling free of charge despite the strong pressure we are under to begin charging for these services.
I am holding steadfast because I believe in the power of information. Information levels the playing field and empowers us to accomplish important objectives. Our services are consumer friendly with a focus on consumer choice. NHSSF is a lender AND we work with other responsible lending partners to bring a wide range of possibilities to our customers. This is YOUR year to make that move toward homeownership. And you won’t be taking that walk alone. Call us, walk in, or check out our website…we are expanding our online services so you can skip the trip but not the journey.
Happy New Year. And God Bless. Kim