PORTLAND, OREGON - The Great Recession has meant heartbreak for many. But for some people it's brought hope and new opportunities.
People like Lisa Archuleta, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde. She'd been a renter for years and was tired of seeing her hard-earned money paid out month after month for something she'd never be able to call her own. She longed for the safety, the stability and the good, long-term financial sense of being a homeowner. And she was willing to make the sacrifices required to become one.
She made a commitment to herself to find ways to save money and marshal the resources and support she'd need to make what would almost certainly be the biggest financial investment of her life. She was so committed, in fact, that she was even willing to move back in with family members, thereby cutting her costs and increasing her savings. She also started keeping careful track of every dollar she spent, asking once, twice and often three times whether it was really something she needed now or could put off.
And, maybe most importantly, she started working with the NAYA - the Native American Youth and Family Center, a Portland non-profit founded in 1974 to "enhance the diverse strengths of our youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education."
Lisa enrolled in a NAYA Family Center homebuyer education class and started an Individual Development Account which helped accelerate the growth of her savings by offering a match to each dollar she put away. NAYA's staff also helped connect her to other community resources - including local non-profit Proud Ground.
Thanks to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program that was part of the Recovery Act proposed by the President and passed by the Congress, Proud Ground had received HUD funds to acquire foreclosed or abandoned houses in the Portland area in order to refurbish and re-sell them. Proud Ground, it turned out, was preparing to offer a home in the neighborhood she wanted to be in at a price she could afford. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, Lisa was ready, willing and eager to make it hers.
The house had stood vacant for a bit. No surprise, it needed some work. A crew from NAYA's construction services program - a training program - went to work painting, refinishing floors, fixing walls, but they also made sure the home would be energy efficient by adding insulation, installing new doors and windows. Lisa's Tribe also helped, providing her with down payment assistance to seal the deal.
"Everyone on my home buying team was very helpful," Lisa recalled. "My REALTOR, Bev Mayorga" - a member of the Chickasaw Nation - "was exceptional. She took me step by step through the home buying process. I could call her anytime day or night and this was very reassuring to me."
Lisa and her son Miguel love their new home, "It's has everything we planned for, a fireplace, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's on a quiet street with a park full of tall Fir trees as our backyard. We already knew several people in the neighborhood, and even have family members a few blocks away." Miguel likes the big garage, "At our old place my bike had to be stored outside and would get rusty, now I have a place to keep my bike out of rain."
"I am so blessed for what the Creator has provided us," Lisa added, "and thankful for the people and resources that have helped us. I feel a great sense of security. We now have an investment for the future. This is quite an accomplishment."
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