From affordable housing to homeownership: Leslie’s story

March 3rd, 2021
Leslie Jackson with her three children and her niece at her Newberry home

Entering her home after just signing her closing papers, Leslie Jackson exclaimed, “I’ve finally arrived!”

“It’s been a hard journey at times,” Leslie continued. “But I feel that my trials and tribulations have also gotten me here to this great place.”

Leslie is the 34th person to become a homeowner through our Newberry program. Newberry is an 8-block area in the Chadsey-Condon neighborhood in southwest Detroit. In Newberry, Southwest Solutions acquired 60 single-family houses that were rental properties to transition them to affordable homeownership. Current renters have priority in taking advantage of this opportunity. The house that Leslie bought had been vacant, and Southwest Solutions renovated it to make it available for homeownership.

The day that Leslie acquired her home was 13 years to the date that she first moved to the Detroit area, seeking a new start for her family. Two and a half years later, her hopeful journey crashed because of domestic violence perpetrated against her. Her injuries were so severe that she spent a month in the hospital and then needed to do physical therapy. The violence had broken her bones, but it did not crush her spirit.

“I told myself that I had to learn from this and move on,” said Leslie, 45. “I never call myself a victim. I am a survivor.”

Without a place to go that she could afford, Leslie and her three kids went to a shelter for women recovering from domestic violence. Leslie then began to work three jobs while also becoming a full-time student at Baker College. Once she was able to earn enough to support her family, she applied for affordable housing with Southwest Solutions. Leslie met with property manager Terri Lopez, and Terri helped her secure an apartment in southwest Detroit. After a couple of years, Leslie and her kids moved into a different Southwest Solutions’ apartment building, called the Whitdel. The family lived at the Whitdel, which is close to Clark Park, for six years before moving into their Newberry home recently.

Leslie Jackson with her three children and her niece at her Newberry home.

Leslie bought the home for $62,000. The closing costs were covered through a grant from the Sam L. and Judith G. Yaker Fund, which specifically supports the Newberry affordable homeownership program. The mortgage is for 15 years, and Leslie’s monthly payments, with taxes and insurance rolled in, are about $660. That’s $20 less per month than what she had been paying in rent.

“I’ve always aspired to be a homeowner, but I can hardly believe this place is ours,” Leslie said. “It exceeds my expectations and I am absolutely elated.”

Like all Newberry homeowners, Leslie completed a Homebuyer Education class at Southwest Solutions as part of the mortgage qualification process. She also worked with homebuyer and financial counselor Teresa Torres to improve her credit.

Leslie currently works in customer service. She also started her own soap-making business and has other entrepreneurial ideas as well.

“I want to build equity and leave a legacy for my children through my home and my businesses,” Leslie said. “I want to become a leader in our neighborhood, too,  and tie our family into a community. I’m already getting to know our neighbors and forging connections.”

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