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Profile of the Month

Persistence is not just a virtue, but sometimes a necessity, when it comes to building assets.  Priscilla Vaughan knows first hand how necessary persistence is when it comes to buying her first home.

Ten years ago, Pricilla was living with her four children in the rooms behind her beauty supply and hip-hop fashion store in Northern California.  As a single mother, she was working full time trying to make ends meet and balance the competing responsibilities of parent and entrepreneur.

Eventually, the effects of Priscilla’s diabetes resulted in the loss of much of her sight.  She applied for and received SSI and a Section 8 rental housing voucher.

She moved with her four children to a neighboring community which accepted section 8 tenants.
“That was a bad neighborhood; I was calling the police all the time.” Trying to raise her children in such a place was profoundly difficult, but Priscilla felt trapped. Eventually, her familiarity with the local police officers worked to her benefit.  They suggested that she re-locate with the assistance of a program serving senior housing needs in another neighboring community. 

Again, Priscilla and her four children pulled up stakes and moved the few miles to what promised to be a new beginning. While the neighborhood was an improvement, the new landlord did insist on additional deposits and other financial considerations at the last minute. These undocumented fees continued even after the family moved into the property. Eventually, Priscilla was forced into court, where she was awarded retroactive damages and a full-refund of certain fees paid. The landlord has appealed, staying the judgment, while Priscilla had to relocate yet again.

The family’s current residence has issues with mold and a leaking roof.  The owners perform repairs in the nice weather, but when it rains, the leaks and mold just reappear. 

While traveling to a doctor’s appointment, Priscilla noticed several new construction projects being built.  Upon further investigation, she learned that several of the units were being set aside for lower income residency, both for rent and purchase through the Section 8 ownership program.

Purchase, that was a new idea! “I realized it would be better for me to use my voucher to get into a home than be paying someone else the rent; I would do a better job of repairs too, and besides, moving is hard. I’m too old for dealing with moving all the time.”  Priscilla realized home ownership would provide her the opportunity to build a better future for her family. “If I had something of my own, my kids would never have to go through the sort of stuff I’ve had to go through.”

Priscilla, with characteristic perseverance, dove into the job of researching how ownership programs in her community. Starting with the regional HUD office, she was referred to her local housing authority, who referred her to a local independent living center, IDA program and community action service. Over the next six to nine months, Pricilla fully funded her IDA account, completed her financial education and credit course work and received several home buying program certificates. “I followed through on everything I was told to do, I followed every rule. I knew educating myself would help me in the end to provide a better life for my kids.”

The next step for Pricilla is to attend the housing authority’s seminar on home buying, but both the April and May sessions seem to have been canceled. She has started working with a local realtor and WID to try and move her forward through the process with her local housing authority. “I just try to eliminate the situations that have been bad for me and keep moving forward, I want to be the best mother I can be for my children. If anything happened to me, at least my kids will have a roof over their heads.”

EQUITY will check back with Priscilla in her continuing efforts to build and provide a better financial future for her and her family. 

As for Priscilla, “I’ll keep on pressing and keep on trying!”
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