After renting her house for nearly 20 years, Yolanda Dates recently closed on it, becoming the 24th former renter to achieve homeownership through Southwest Solutions’ Newberry program.
“When I came home after the closing and walked through the front door, I felt like a whole new person with a brand new sense of freedom,” said Yolanda, who is 56. “I felt so happy! I spoke to my house like a close friend and thanked it for being there for me and making my dream of becoming a homeowner come true.”
Yolanda’s family are the only residents that the house has ever known. She moved in with her four children just after the house was completed. The house is one of 60 single-family rental properties in Newberry that Southwest Solutions has acquired and is transitioning to affordable homeownership. Newberry is an 8-block area in the Chadsey-Condon neighborhood in southwest Detroit.
The purchase price for a Newberry home is only $59,000 presently. In addition, up to $20,000 in downpayment assistance is available to each homebuyer as a conditional grant, thanks to a $2.5M grant from the Sam L. and Judith G. Yaker Fund. Current renters have priority in buying the homes. They must complete a Homebuyer Education class with Southwest Solutions as part of becoming mortgage eligible. The mortgages are for 15 years. Yolanda’s monthly house payment, including taxes and insurance, is $533.
“I know I can afford the home because I was paying about the same amount in rent for so long,” Yolanda said. “The difference now is that it’s mine and I’m building equity.”
Yolanda is employed as a home healthcare worker. Her hours have been reduced during the Covid-19 crisis, but she is confident that they will pick up again as restrictions ease.
Like Yolanda, Laquetta Hardge also works in home healthcare. She had been renting her Newberry house for 10 years before closing on the same day as Yolanda, becoming the 23rd new homeowner in the program.
Laquetta’s mortgage payments, with taxes and insurance rolled in, are about $90 less per month than what her rent was. Laquetta’s rent had been subsidized through a Section 8 voucher. In the process to become a homeowner, she relinquished the voucher.
“I told my son that getting the home is part of my plan to improve myself and spread my wings,” Laquetta said. “It’s my 50th birthday, and the home is a big present to myself and my future. I’m going to get more home healthcare clients to increase my income. I like the work because it helps people who really need it.”
Both Laquetta and Yolanda are optimistic about the neighborhood they are investing in, and they look forward to being in their homes for many more years.
“I love it here,” Yolanda said. “The blight is being removed, vacant lots are being cleaned, and the crime is going down. The neighborhood is getting better and better, and people are working together because they’re putting down roots.”