Success Stories

Empowered by Home: Justin’s Story

Justin and kids

An assistant principal at Branham High School and a single dad, Justin Ponzio dreamed of having a home for his kids – ages five and six – to live and grow. When he found the Empower Homebuyers SCC program in 2019, the trio lived in a rental near a busy frontage road that was far away from Justin’s school.

“I wanted a yard for the kids – that was the driving force for me,” Justin told us, on his decision to become a homeowner. “And I hated the idea of putting in a long commute and not spending as much time with them.”

Justin’s yard shortly after purchasing the home

Justin worked with our homeownership team on Empower Homebuyers SCC and credits Tim Goulet of the Linda Baker realtor team with helping him find a home in San Jose. They searched for a home with space for the kids and close to where he works, and they moved in during late 2019. His parents, who are both green thumbs, have been over several times to visit and assist him with the garden and the kids were extremely excited to have a ‘blank canvas’ of a safe yard to play in. “Being closer to work and having more time with my kids is phenomenal,” he told us at the time.

We spoke with Justin in the first week of May, well into Santa Clara County’s shelter in place order. Like many working parents, he’s had to juggle things like kids who want to sit in his lap while he’s on a Zoom call and, as an educator, having to engage with the teachers, students and community at his own school at the same time. But he remains thankful for the house and the flexibility it’s given the family.

Justin’s yard today

Justin has also had “more pancakes in the last three months” than he had in his entire life because the additional time at home means he has time to make pancakes each morning with his daughter. The fifteen minutes of driving time between his home and the school are now all for the kids. “It’s an ebb and flow of trying to do everything all at once but this is a time I can spend some serious quality time with them,” he told us.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 and a nod to Giving Tuesday, we asked Justin and some of the other educators our homeownership programs have helped to name their favorite nonprofits – Justin is a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Learn About Empower Homebuyers SCC during Housing Trust’s webinar on Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm – click here to register.