Making a Better Life: Erika's Story

When Erika came to the United States from Mexico she had one goal: to make a better life for herself and her young daughter.

It was difficult to leave her home in Mexico and especially to say goodbye to her mother, but she believed a better life was within her reach.

In the United States, Erika began working as a waitress at a popular local restaurant and did everything she could to make ends meet. Over the next few years, she became a mother again, adding a son and another daughter to her family. Money was tight and extra time was in short supply, but she was determined to take care of herself and her children on her own.

She was living in a mobile home, which she and her family had quickly outgrown, and wanted to buy a larger home of her own. But with her income and expenses, she thought that goal might be out of her reach. A friend who recently purchased a home through Homewise encouraged her to call and assured her she could get the help she needed. Erika first came to Homewise in March of 2014 to begin her journey to the home of her dreams.

Erika had some big financial obstacles to tackle. Her income was largely based on tips and fluctuated from month to month. She had credit challenges and collections, and very little savings. With the help and guidance of Victoria, her Homewise Home Purchase Advisor, she was able to get her finances on track. They started by working on cleaning up her collections to improve her credit. She was even able to successfully remove some collection claims that did not actually belong to her.

Then it was on to savings. Victoria helped Erika set up an IDA savings account and Erika began making regular deposits. She got hooked on savings! Soon she was making bi-weekly deposits into her savings account. To help steady her fluctuating income, she took very little time
off work and always made her Home Purchase Advising appointments on Wednesdays, her regular day off.

In just six months Erika’s collections had either been paid off or removed from her credit report, and her credit score drastically improved. Along the way she attended Financial Fitness and Homebuyer Education classes at Homewise and by the end of September she had saved enough for her down payment.

She worked with Homewise Realtor Maria and found an affordable 4 bedroom new construction home. While her home was under construction, Erika sold her mobile home and a second vehicle to increase her savings and have even more money to put toward the purchase and furnishing of her new home. Erika closed on her home in January 2015, less than a year after making her first call to Homewise.

The kids eagerly share their favorite things about having a new home. They shout out “having a room of my own!” and “having a trampoline in the backyard!” For Erika, the best part is having a safe, quiet and comfortable place to raise her family, and space for her Mom to come visit often from Mexico. When asked what it feels like to be in her home, Erika responds happily, “It’s exactly how I imagined it would be. It is a great blessing for me and my children.”

About the Author:
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Homewise helps create successful homeowners and strengthen neighborhoods in New Mexico. We do this through our comprehensive real estate and lending services designed to support working families and individuals. We are a nonprofit lender, also known as a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI).