Reaching Self-Sufficiency through Housing Counseling

Photo: Yesenia Martinez holds the keys to her new home.

A single mother of two girls, Yesenia Martinez was accepted into the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program in March 2005 with the West Palm Beach Housing Authority at a time when she was unemployed and had just declared bankruptcy. FSS is a program that enables HUD-assisted families to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies through guidance from a counselor.

Eight months into the FSS program, Yesenia found a full-time job, set up an Individual Development Account (IDA), and went through financial and budget counseling with help from the housing authority. IDA’s are a special savings account that match deposits made by low to moderate income families to help them save for education, job training, homeownership, or to start a small business. In this case, Yesenia chose to use her savings to purchase a home.

After her bankruptcy was discharged in 2008, Yesenia’s credit score went up, which allowed her to begin the process of buying a home. The following year, she was approved to purchase a Habitat Home in Jupiter, Florida, and after fulfilling the required 400 equity hours, they began construction on her home. Thanks to funds from her IDA savings and the FSS Savings Program, she was able to put a substantial down payment on her new home. Yesenia was approved for the Section 8 for Homeownership Program where she continued to receive housing assistance for her mortgage until 2013.

She has since exited from the assistance program and is now a proud, self-sufficient grandmother living in her beautiful home.

Read the latest issue of The Bridge from HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling or subscribe at

Reaching Self-Sufficiency through Housing Counseling
Reaching Self-Sufficiency through Housing Counseling

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]
The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]

He Will Finish

He Will Finish
Are you believing for something that seems like it’s taking longer than you hoped? Maybe you’ve been praying for a loved one. Maybe you’ve believed for a situation to change for years. Don’t get discouraged. God is going to finish what He started! He is a faithful God, and He has something unmatched, unparalleled coming your way—favor, breakthroughs, restoration like you haven’t seen before!

God has been good to all of us in the past, but I believe we’re coming into a time where we will see greater anointing, greater power and greater victories! The key is that we have to stay in agreement with God. We should get up every morning and say, “Father, thank You for Your unprecedented favor. Thank You for the immeasurable, unlimited, surpassing greatness of Your power.” If you keep standing in faith, I believe you’re going to come into more of those days where you stand in utter amazement and say, “Wow, God! I’ve never seen anything like this before!”

Remember, scripture says, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” No, nothing is impossible when we put our faith and trust in Him. Today, keep standing, keep believing and keep hoping because God has something astounding in store for your future!

A Prayer for Today
“Heavenly Father, today I set my heart and mind on You. I choose to trust that You are working behind the scenes on my behalf. I stand strong on Your Word today knowing that victory is on the way in Jesus’ name. Amen!”

HUD’s Healthy Homes Program Means Healthier Virginia Children

Photo: Built in 1922, this Roanoke home was the site of extensive lead remediation including window sash replacement and paint stabilization on the interior and exterior of the house. Shown here are the before and after photographs of the exterior.

HUD’s Healthy Homes Program helps improve the quality of life for Virginians, especially children, by reducing the number of homes with hazards that endanger the health and safety of residents.

“The Healthy Homes Program uses a multipronged approach including grants, research and outreach to save lives and improve the health of children,” said Michael McGreevy, a Healthy Homes Specialist in HUD’s Richmond Field Office

Michael works with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Environmental Studies to identify local communities with the highest incidence of children with high levels of lead in their blood. This knowledge helps him target the marketing of HUD’s lead hazard control grants in the areas in Virginia that need it most.

Among the most successful applicants for the lead hazard control grants is the City of Roanoke, with grants totaling $7 million. Since the program’s beginnings in 2003, Lead Safe Roanoke has assisted over 300 families who couldn’t afford to address these issues on their own, making certain their homes are free from lead based paint hazards.

“We’re extremely proud of our City’s Lead Safe Roanoke Program as we continue to successfully reduce the possibility of our youngest citizens becoming poisoned by deteriorating lead based paint hazards found in our older homes,” Acting City Manager Brian Townsend stated.  “The City is committed to continuing educating our citizens to the dangers associated with deteriorating lead based paint. By working together with our program partners and our citizens, our goal is to make certain all housing in the City of Roanoke will be lead safe.”

HUD research has shown that children frequently suffer lead poisoning from the dust generated by the paint than from the lead-based paint itself. HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes stresses the importance of very stringent clean-up requirement after remediation to our partners in this effort.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, child lead poisoning declined by nearly 70 percent since 1997. In Virginia, HUD’s Healthy Homes Program helps lead to healthier children throughout the Commonwealth.

Toni Schmiegelow is a Senior Management Analyst in HUD’s Richmond field office.

HUD’s Healthy Homes Program Means Healthier Virginia Children
HUD’s Healthy Homes Program Means Healthier Virginia Children

Transitioning Renters to Homeowners

Photo: Esperanza sits in the living room of her home.

When a HUD-approved housing counselor at ACTS Housing first met Esperanza, she was on her hands and knees scraping old tile off the floor of her new home, debris flying everywhere.  In that moment, her housing counselor knew she was a woman on a mission.

Esperanza went to ACTS Housing, a HUD-approved housing agency, because she was tired of paying high rental costs. “Half of my check goes to the rent,” said Esperanza. “With three kids, I was ready. I’ve been saving so long and my kids deserve more.”

The first step in Esperanza’s homeownership journey was a meeting with Maria Santos, Director of Homebuyer Counseling for ACTS Housing.  Maria Santos, pulled Experanza’s credit report, walked her through various housing options, and supported her every step of the way. Maria explained, “Esperanza was a joy to work with. She was passionate and focused on homeownership from day one.”

With Maria’s help, Esperanza purchased a property that had been in foreclosure on the South Side of Milwaukee, and renovated it into the home of her dreams. Having worked in the construction trade for five years, Esperanza had the perfect skillset to take on such a big project. She explained, “Once I got the house, the kids were excited because everyone has their own room now. And, I have more money in my pocket.” Esperanza, her three children, their dog and cat are now happy and cozy in their newly renovated South Side home.

Maria explains that watching homeowners like Esperanza achieve their home buying dreams makes her job worthwhile. “The most rewarding part of my work is watching families overcome obstacles and move closer to homeownership,” said Maria. “I work with a lot of incredibly strong individuals who work hard to become homeowners. Once the keys are in hand, it makes all the hard work worth it.”

ACTS Housing is thankful for Esperanza’s commitment to her family and her home. She has joined a cohort of more than 2,200 ACTS families since 1995 who have done the hard work necessary to become homeowners throughout Milwaukee.

Read the latest issue of The Bridge from HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling or subscribe at

Transitioning Renters to Homeowners
Transitioning Renters to Homeowners

The 5-Minute Rule for College Papers

The 5-Minute Rule for College Papers

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Mortgage Rates Improve as Lenders Catch up

Mortgage rates fell today despite relatively uneventful movement in underlying bond markets (which drive day to day changes in rates). The net improvement can be explained by the timing of yesterday’s improvement. Simply put, bonds improved late in the day (following the 2pm release of the Fed Minutes). That market improvement was too late in the day for some lenders to reissue rate sheets. Lenders who DID improve yesterday afternoon nonetheless held back just a bit, as it’s customary to make sure late day market gains stick around the following morning before fully adjusting rate sheets to reflect the gains. For the average borrower at the average lender, this equates to a modest reduction in the upfront costs associated with the same old rates that have been in play all week. Most lenders
Mortgage Rates Improve as Lenders Catch up
Mortgage Rates Improve as Lenders Catch up

Ways to Get Copies of Bankruptcy Discharges

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4 Chapters

I heard this on the way into work today.

Chapter 1:  I walked down a street.  There was a large hole in the street.  I feel in.  It was not my fault.  It took me a long time to get out.

Chapter 2:  I walked down the street.  There was a large hole in the street.  I fell in. It was my fault.  It took me a long time to get out.

Chapter 3: I walked down the street. There was a large hole in the street.  I moved around the hole.

Chapter 4:  I walked down a different street.