Deanna’s Journey to Homeownership

Meet Deanna and her family! Deanna reached out to Norwescap in January 2020 with her sights set high. She told the staff at Norwescap Financial Empowerment, “My goal is to own a home in my early 30s, and my 30th birthday is in February.” 

Owning a home is one of the core components of the American dream. We’re often taught that the pathway to homeownership is as simple as hard work and saving up – but it is often not that simple. There are many hurdles to homeownership for families with limited income: the ability to save enough for a sufficient down payment; accessing credit and getting a fair interest rate when finances and employment have been inconsistent; managing budget and debt once the home is purchased. The current housing market and rising home values in New Jersey can make that dream feel even more inaccessible.

Norwescap offers many programs that help families obtain or maintain safe and affordable housing, and ultimately work towards that big dream of owning a home. Our Individual Development Account (IDA) program, launched in 1999, provides matched savings to assist low-income individuals and families to save for a life-changing asset and build wealth. Over the past 22 years, Norwescap’s IDA program has helped hundreds of participants obtain nearly $11 million worth of real estate and other assets. We are excited to congratulate Deanna and her family of Warren County, our most recent graduate of the program and proud new homeowner! 

With the regular hurdles to home buying already in place, Deanna and her fiancé Robert had the extra economic responsibility of a family with 3 little “mini-annas” … Reanna, Lillianna and Savanna. Deanna has always been an ambitious achiever and hard worker, and she had some college education – but as a mother, her options were limited when it came to finding work that would also allow her to care for her family. The income from her two part-time food service jobs made her struggle real as she tried to save. But Norwescap was able to help her make real progress. She received ‘match dollars’ for her savings through Norwescap’s IDA program, and our credit counseling services helped her create financial changes – learning how to raise her credit score, becoming “bankable,” creating a budget – to support her journey towards her dream.

New challenges arose when Deanna lost her job during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. Even with Robert working full-time, the family budget was strapped tighter. At times, it felt impossible – but she did all she could to stay in the program, even scraping up just $10 or $15 to put in the savings plan.

Throughout her unemployment, Deanna kept working hard, and not just at saving. Through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, her family’s future house was being built in Washington – and Deanna was part of the construction crew! As she invested “sweat equity” into her new home, hammering nails and painting walls, she continued attending Norwescap’s financial literacy workshops, even bringing along the 3 little “–annas”. She noted that bringing her daughters along created extra challenges, but having them learn financial lessons we usually miss while growing up was important.

“Renting is expensive! We are saving $500 a month now by being homeowners.”

Norwescap is so proud to congratulate Deanna, Robert and the rest of the “–anna” crew. Deanna celebrated her 31st birthday this month – and true to her word, as well as a testament to the power of goal-setting – she is now a homeowner! She has obtained full-time employment as a Lunch Aide at her children’s school, allowing her the flexibility and closeness a family needs to succeed, while Robert continues to support his family as a father and working his full-time job. Together, they continue the hard work of sticking to a budget and growing financially. We cannot wait to see how that $500/month savings can be invested into new prosperity, and what this family achieves in the future.