For almost 20 years, Pamela Wright had come and gone through the front door of her rental house. But when she returned home this time, she experienced a new feeling about her place.
“When I left here this morning, I told myself that when I come back it’s finally mine,” said Pamela, as she sat at her dining room table and shed quiet tears of joy. “I belong here and I’m very proud to own it.”
Pamela had just returned from closing on her home in a part of the Chadsey-Condon area of southwest Detroit called Newberry. In Newberry, Southwest Solutions is transitioning 60 former rental properties to affordable homeownership. The initiative is supported through a generous donation from the Sam L. and Judith G. Yaker Fund.
The 60 single-family houses were built by a developer two decades ago with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to provide affordable rental housing for low to moderate income families. The LIHTC compliance period expired recently, creating the opportunity for those who had been renting to become homeowners.
Pamela was one of the first people to start renting in Newberry. She moved in just after the house was finished with her son Mickey, who was about 10 years old at the time. Pamela was divorced, and she supported herself and Mickey through her work as a private-duty caregiver.
Mickey was an excellent student and earned a full scholarship to Wayne State where he intended to study law. Tragically, he would not have the chance to fulfill his promise. In 2008, in his freshman year, Mickey was killed in a car accident. He was 18.
“Mickey had left home to live on campus when he died,” Pamela said. “But his presence is still in the home with me, and I’m thankful for that. It’s not a painful reminder of loss. It’s a good feeling.”
Pamela has taken great care of the home, both inside and out. Neighbors have told her that they see the house as an inspiration for the neighborhood.
“I put my heart and soul in everything I do,” Pamela said.
Pamela is the 18th person to become a homeowner through the Newberry initiative. She completed the Homebuyer Education course at Southwest Solutions early last year, but decided to wait on buying her home because she wanted to feel more financially secure before signing the mortgage. Her monthly mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, is $583, which is $115 less than what she had been paying in rent.
“I absolutely love my home and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” Pamela said. “I think this is going to be an awesome neighborhood going forward as more neighbors become homeowners and we work together to make it better.”