When Frances and her husband Jose came to Detroit from Puerto Rico ten years ago, they did not dream that they would become homeowners.
“We came here because we wanted our children to get a better education so they could have a better life,” Frances said. “Our focus was on our children. We didn’t think we would have the money to buy a home. We feel blessed to have this opportunity.”
Recently, Frances signed the closing papers to own the house that the family had been renting for the last four years. The house is one of 60 that Southwest Solutions acquired in an eight-block area of Chadsey-Condon called Newberry. The Newberry Homes were rental properties for low-income families. Southwest Solutions is renovating the houses and making them available for affordable homeownership. Priority is given to the families that are currently in the houses.
Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, an association of home builders and remodelers, awarded grant funds to Southwest Solutions that are being used to make needed home repairs.
Frances’ family is the second in the Newberry project area to make the transition from renter to homeowner. Their monthly rent for the four-bedroom house had been $571. Now their mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, is only $486 a month under their 15-year mortgage. The purchase price was $55,000, but this was reduced by $20,000 through a conditional grant. In addition, they received down payment assistance made possible by a donation from the Sam L. and Judith G. Yaker Fund. The Yaker Fund gave $2.5M to the Newberry Homes project to promote homeownership and neighborhood revitalization. Prospective Newberry homeowners must complete a Homebuyer Education Workshop. Southwest Solutions offers this free, one-day workshop, and Frances took the class in September.
Frances works in the cafeteria of a school about a mile away from the family home. Her husband Jose works at a factory. They have three kids. Their daughter, who is the oldest, is now in college in Texas studying aviation. She aspires to be a pilot. Their two sons also have plans to attend college.
The family is from San Juan and they remain deeply attached to Puerto Rico. They are also very concerned about the island’s slow recovery from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria last year. Frances and Jose intend to return to San Juan when their kids are on their own. The equity they are accumulating in the home will help them pay for their kids’ college expenses and also rebuild their life in San Juan when they choose to go back.
“This home will help us achieve our dreams,” Frances said.