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"Andrew" is a single parent with two children at home. For several years the family rented a small house consisting of two bedrooms, a bath, kitchen and living room. Andrew's rent was frequently offset by working on the house which was in need of significant repair, but it was a solid structure in a quiet neighborhood on a large lot. Andrew mentioned that he would like to buy the home if it were ever for sale. To his surprise, the owner was not only interested in selling, he made some calls and eventually referred Andrew to CHRA. Andrew had no debt, thus no credit history. A CHRA counselor explained how to use alternative credit to document his good payment history. Andrew qualified for a special product loan and received a down-payment assistance grant through a program funded with City of Phoenix Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies.

Andrew has been an owner since 1999 and reports no major problems with the house or homeownership. He has not refinanced though he has considered the possibility.

Andrew says the most difficult aspect of home ownership is maintenance, and the most rewarding aspect is "owning your own home." He says he found pre-purchase counseling to be very helpful, noting that it put him on the right track and provided coaching throughout the process. The most helpful thing he learned via the counseling was how to compile alternative credit.

"Rose and Tom" originally came to CHRA in 1998 and although they had no debt, they could only qualify for $48,500 with a 7.5% interest rate. They decided to wait until Tom received a raise, making his annual salary $18,000. They returned to CHRA in 1999 and, with the City of Phoenix First-time HOMEbuyers Program, were able to purchase a $71,000 residence needing $10,000 in repairs. The family, including four children, has now been in their home for five years, has not refinanced and has had no major problems with the property. Rose and Tom have found the responsibility of home and yard maintenance to be the most difficult aspect of homeownership.

They also feel they have moved from "low class" to "working class" and are paying for everything themselves, no longer relying on public assistance. The most surprising aspect of owning the home is that it was a dream come true but now they find they want more and, from time to time, consider selling and moving up.

When asked how owning a home has changed their family or community ties, they say their children are growing up with the same friends and note their oldest daughter, who recently graduated from high school, was an honor student in ROTC and received a military scholarship. They say marriage solidified them but owning a home together has strengthened their relationship. Rose has returned to school for a degree in social work. One of the most valuable aspects of prepurchase counseling for Rose was "not being afraid". The couple says they were already good at budgeting but found it very helpful to know, step-by-step, what would happen throughout the process. They say the most rewarding aspects of home ownership are self esteem and establishment of a credit history. In fact, they now have a credit rating of over 700.

"Charles" first approached CHRA in 2000. He had worked at the same company for 21 years, rented in the same apartment complex for eight years, had $2,500 in savings and was not a credit user but had excellent alternative credit with no debt. His hourly income, however, was just over $8. In 2001, CHRA learned Community Housing Partnership had a 997 square foot condominium for $29,900 with a monthly homeowner association fee of $105. Charles was able to buy the unit with special financing from Harris Trust Bank. The portfolio loan did not require a down-payment and Charles received a below market rate with no mortgage insurance. Charles couldn't believe he'd finally been given a "break"... he felt that had never happened to him before.

He has been in his home for three years and has not refinanced. He says he "got a real good deal" and could probably sell for two times what he paid but he's not planning on moving. He has replaced the hot water tank and repaired the air conditioning unit but has experienced no major problems. He notes the most difficult aspect of homeownership was the increase in association fees. The most rewarding aspect is ownership because he never thought that would ever happen. What surprises him most is the volume of solicitations he now receives to buy a home and asks 'where were they when I wanted to buy?' He felt pre-purchase counseling really helped and was most valuable by pointing out the need to resolve his marital status and to prepare for homeownership by helping him develop alternative credit.

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