At her recent mortgage closing, Daniele held up her index finger and playfully exclaimed, “I am number one!” Indeed she is.
Daniele is the first person to become a homeowner through Southwest Solutions’ Newberry Homes project. The project involves 60 houses that Southwest Solutions acquired in an eight-block area of the Chadsey Condon neighborhood in southwest Detroit. The houses were built as low-income rental properties, and Southwest Solutions is renovating them to make them available for affordable homeownership.
Daniele had been renting the house she now owns for 11 years.
“For what I paid in rent and for as long as I’ve been here, I could have bought this house twice over, considering the purchase deal I’m getting now,” Daniele said.
Daniele is buying the home for $35,000, after receiving a $20,000 conditional grant made possible through a $2.5M donation from the Sam L. and Judith Yaker Fund that is specifically intended to revitalize the Newberry area through homeownership opportunities and neighborhood improvement projects. If Daniele keeps the home for five years, she won’t have to pay back any part of the grant.
Daniele signed a 15-year mortgage agreement through Southwest Lending Solutions. Her monthly mortgage payment is about $450, which includes taxes and insurance. This is $200 less than what her monthly rent used to be.
“My husband and I had already put so much into the house to make it feel like home,” Daniele said. “Now that we actually own the home, we can build wealth and equity through our investment in this place. Even if we decide not to stay here, we can pass it down to my children.”
Becoming a homeowner culminates a banner year for Daniele, who is in her early 40s. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree in medical case management.
“When I graduated, I thought of my mother, who’d passed away of Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Daniele said emotionally. “She was disappointed in me when I’d dropped out of high school because I was pregnant. She knew that I was bright. So, when I got my degree, I said to myself and her memory: ‘Mom, I did it!’”
After leaving high school, Daniele worked in retail and raised five children. She received a housing subsidy to make ends meet. After being employed for 10 years with a furniture chain, Daniele was laid off. She then decided to transform her career direction with determination. She got her GED in short order, then her associate’s degree, and then her bachelor’s. Daniele is now working for Henry Ford Health System. Next year, she will begin her master’s in psychology. Her aim is help young women aspire to success, despite the struggles they experience in life.
Daniele and her husband Carl have been married for three and a half years. Carl works for Ford Motor Company. He is well known in the neighborhood. Carl has a riding lawnmower, and he often cuts the grass in the vacant lots, as well as for his neighbors. This summer, Carl and a friend painted the fire hydrants in the area to help improve the look of the neighborhood.
“The neighborhood could be better, and I think it will get better as more families become homeowners and are more invested in making this a good place to live,” Daniele said. “I would encourage my neighbors to take advantage of this opportunity that Southwest Solutions is offering to own their homes. It’s exciting.”