Success Stories

Empowered by Home: Foundations for Family

For Billy and Joleigh, having roots in San José means an abundance of family and proudly growing up as part of the Mexican American community. Thanks to the Empower Homebuyers SCC program, Joleigh and Billy can raise their three kids in a brand new Gilroy home near their cherished hometown.

“We have lived in apartments and duplexes, but we wanted a place of our own,” says Billy. “It’s important to us that we have a foundation for our family – something that is long-term and ours, where we are not just paying rent to someone else – real property that is an investment and is ours.”

Born and raised in East San José, they attended Overfelt High School where a majority of their aunts and uncles graduated. Joleigh now works at a middle school in East San José as Billy works as a project manager for a commercial millwork company. For several years, the couple rented and worked hard to save for a house close to home for their growing family.

Joleigh first learned about the Empower program through an email from her school district. The opportunity piqued their interest, and they began the application process just as COVID hit. The house hunt took a backseat as Billy decided to change careers in the middle of the pandemic. Shifting across industries would affect their chances of securing a home loan, so they waited until Billy was more established in his new career before restarting the process.

“The Housing Trust staff were just great to work with,” recalls Billy. “It was a long process – lots of paperwork and emails back and forth. Yvonne was our main point of contact, and she would instantly reply back. She walked us through the whole way. We pretty much had every day contact for eight months. She actually made the process a lot easier.”

After putting in a series of offers, Billy and Joleigh are ecstatic to be the owners of a newly-built, two-story house in Gilroy. Their three children – ages 5, 11, and 13 – now have their own bedrooms and a backyard where they can play together. Billy’s favorite features are the big garage and extra bathrooms for their family of five.

“Everyone always told us that when that house comes, you’ll know it’s the house you want. When we saw the house that we have now, Billy and I knew that this was the house that we have waited for.”

– Joleigh

Joleigh loves everything about the home! The larger space means an opportunity to host their families and have company over to enjoy and share the space they have worked so hard for.Billy and Joleigh believe their home is meant to be. They are grateful to be able to raise their kids in a neighborhood full of other families. No longer having to worry about the next move, they feel relaxed as they settle down and build a foundation and home base for their kids.

They advise interested homebuyers to consider applying for the Empower program and to have patience in the length of the process. “Just like anything great, it’s going to take work,” says Billy. “It took work, but it’s all worth it in the end – there’s no better program that I’ve seen out there.”

Begin to lay foundations for your future by learning more about how down payment assistance can help you purchase your first home at Find an upcoming free Empower Homebuyers SCC program information session.