Shante shared her story to be used on our website in April 2015.
In November 2014, I was offered employment through Catholic Charities’ Housing Counseling Services. This includes the First Time Home Buyer Program, Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program, and Financial Fitness. Before accepting the position of a Housing Counselor I served as a Residential Case Manager with Catholic Charities for two years.
My interest in working as a Housing Counselor came from a personal connection I have with the Program. In 1997, my mother, sister and I were the 99th family to benefit from the down payment and closing cost assistance the FTHB Program offered. To date, the Program has assisted 424 families in reaching their goal of homeownership!
I remember that cold day in December clearly. It was a life changing day for my family. I remember taking silly pictures with my sister in front of the “sold” sign in the front yard. I remember finally feeling stable. But most importantly, I remember the new found confidence that my mom walked with after that day and how that attitude transferred to my sister and I.
Several years later, after I moved out of that home and was married, my husband was offered a position with the City of Elmira that required us to live within the City limits for him to accept employment. My husband, children and I moved back into that home my mother so proudly purchased 13 years prior. Living in that home for a second time, allowed my husband to accept a position with the City of Elmira which began a rewarding career. We then used living in that home as an opportunity to save money for a down payment on our first home.
Now, having worked in the First Time Home Buyer Program, I have an even greater understanding of the importance and power of homeownership. According to the National Board of Realtors (2012), children of homeowners have higher math and reading scores and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Homeowners take on a greater responsibility such as home maintenance and financial skills and they pass those skills on to their children. Homeowners also have increased civic participation, charitable activity and psychological and physical health. The sense of pride that comes with homeownership creates an unmeasurable ripple effect that impacts the whole community and strengthens its members.
Catholic Charities’ First Time Home Buyer Program proves Margaret Mead’s famous quote to be true: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”