I had the privilege to meet with Joe, Lori and their sons Mikel (5) and Mason (3) at their home in Brook Park last month. As soon as i arrived, Mikel and Mason excitedly took me from room to room, and up the stairs to show me everything – it was overwhelming to see their happiness explode as they gave me a tour of their home. You may recognize Lori and Joe from a recent article in The Plain Dealer written by Teresa Dixon Murray. As we settled into the living room and i sat up my camera i noticed NHS of Greater Cleveland’s Homebuyer Education binder resting right on their coffee table – talk about dedication.
Lori and Joe heard about a down payment assistance program when they lived in Lima and after moving into Cuyahoga County they figured a similar program had to exist. This is where Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland met Lori and Joe – they were looking to transition from apartment living to a home and wanted to find out their options and what it meant to become homeowners. From Orientation, into our Homebuyer Education class, Lori and Joe primarily worked with Senior Housing Specialist, Liz Sanchez. In order to achieve their dream of home ownership, Lori and Joe knew they would need to make some sacrifices. The biggest one? Moving in with Lori’s parents in order to save up enough money.
What it was like staying with Lori’s parents?
“It was good, at the same time too you get tired of having just one room and this corner to put your stuff. It became frustrating because I wanted to have more than just you know a corner to put all my stuff, and a basement to hold my clothes, and a bed just to sleep in. It helps you appreciate having your own space cause when you don’t have your own space. I was happy to move out. Now we can use our house to be a blessing to other people too, we have all these extra beds, family comes out, friends come out – we have space and it feels good saying that.”
Actually, my dad just passed away a couple weeks ago. I feel like this is really a blessing that the kids were able to be with my parents for two and a half years. They got to know their grandpa, that’s why I’m looking at it as a positive. He got to see our house too before he passed. Everything happens for a reason.”
We went on to discuss what they learned from Homebuyer Education.
“One of the things that we learned from the class was that you don’t want to go in broke. You don’t want to spend all of your savings and then have nothing left over as a cushion – that’s one of the very valuable things that we learned and applied. We wanted to have a good foundation, even though obviously NHS of Greater Cleveland would be paying a lot to help for the (down payment) assistance but we also wanted to have our own cushion too. We were very mindful, we didn’t want to buy any furniture or put any big things on credit until we actually had the house. We still don’t have anything on credit. We’ve been trying to pay everything in cash.
This is where we’ll grow old together, and raise the kids, and they will be able to live and have a home of permanence – no more moving! We’ve moved 5 times in our 8 years of marriage. It’s really nice to be able to settle down.”
Why is home important to you?
“Home is a place where you can have family together, make memories as a family, raise the kids – they can have safety and security themselves, stability. Someplace where they can have a community where they can make friends and develop relationships.
I love being able to host people – the freedom to just be able to set an atmosphere.”
“Keep on plugging away, it is a process, some people have this magical idea in their head that they’re going to find a house day one, and they’re going to find it right away and it’s going to be the perfect house and everything is going to fall into place. It’s okay to have a picture of what you want to go for so you know what not to accept but there’s got to be some leeway, sometimes you have to let go of things, take on some things you didn’t expect, so there has to be some compromise but also for that patience. It took us over a year to find our place. things don’t always go as planned.”
As our time came to a close Joe said something that really stood out, “I just think honestly, God uses certain people, certain organizations – actually NHS was a God send because without their help and assistance we wouldn’t have the income to get the down payment for the house. Without the down payment assistance the monthly payment would have been higher, it would’ve caused more stress and strain and would’ve made the option of having a home even less.”
I want to thank Lori, Joe, Mikel and Mason for welcoming me into their home and sharing with me.