The path to homeownership is often not a quick one, but most homeowners will tell you the right home for your family is worth the wait. For Kerry Watson the wait included two years of homeowner education classes before she was able to get her home built through Fahe Member, Bell Whitley Community Action Agency. But in her own words: “This is the most patient I have ever been in my entire life, and if you’re patient good things come.”
Bell-Whitley CAA provides several areas of service to the community including home revitalization, homebuyer education, child developments, and job training and placement.
Kerry is a working single mother of two. She lives with her son Jamie (age 9) and her daughter Bianca (age 5) in a small trailer owned by her grandmother. While her grandmother’s trailer is a step up from an older home that was falling apart, it doesn’t fit her family’s needs or budget. The trailer is small (the children share the same room) and the utility bills are high, averaging $200 – $250 a month. Her first plan was to purchase a doublewide trailer of her own, but due to high prices, this plan fell apart. A friend at work informed her that she could look into owning an actual house if she contacted Bell-Whitley CAA. The chance to get a non-mobile home at an affordable rate was too good of an offer to pass up, so she called.
To receive assistance from Bell-Whitley, Kerry had to enroll into their homebuyer education class. For those whom complete the class, there is available assistance for home down payments, closing costs, and gap financing. Those participating in the class must have steady income and be willing to make monthly mortgage payments. They must also attend homeownership counseling for credit issues, budgeting, home maintenance, and other relevant issues.
“It takes time,” said Kerry. “But the children are excited to get a new home. Jamie is excited to get his sissy out of his room. I’m looking forward to paying a cheaper electric bill and just having more space to live in. I’m very excited about being able to get outside and do work and plant flowers in my own yard. I’m so excited that I’ve been taking pictures of the entire process.”
When Kerry was halfway through the second year of her class, Bell-Whitley directed her to JustChoice Lending, the lending arm of Fahe. She qualified for a USDA Guaranteed loan and construction of a three-bedroom house began in October 2012. Because of her willingness to wait and work with Bell-Whitley, Kerry and her family are moving into a home they’ve been dreaming of.
On being asked what advice she would give to someone in a similar situation looking for a home, she had this to say: “It is a great program to go through. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I’ll never forget it. Have patience!”