Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s virtual fall event, On the House, is on Tuesday, October 6. Get your tickets here!
Empower Homebuyers – the Measure A funded down payment assistance program created by the County of Santa Clara and administered by us – has kept going through the pandemic and helped create 15 first time homebuyers in our 2020 fiscal year. After seven workshops over the summer, the City of Mountain View is co-hosting an Empower workshop on October 15th and another co-hosted by the City of Campbell on November 18th. The more we talk with the people this program has helped, the more thankful we are to be a part of it.
When Sarah and Will attended an open house in South County in May 2019, they just happened to meet a lender from Guild Mortgage. The lender, who at the time was the only person at Guild Mortgage with Empower Homebuyer SCC lender training, gave Sarah and Will an Empower flyer, beginning a great conversation that set the two on a life-changing path.
Sarah is a fifth grade teacher in the Morgan Hill Unified School District. Will is a technical support scientist for a tech company in San Jose. They have an 8-year old son, Caleb, who of course, had his own dreams, which included owning a dog and having a sibling to hang out with. Proud Gilroy community members and faithful 49ers fans, the family wanted to stay in the area so they could be close to Sarah’s parents (Caleb’s grandparents) and their large, extended family. Sarah and Will have also been thinking about being foster parents, which they could not do in their cramped, two bedroom apartment.
Once the couple looked into Empower Homebuyers SCC, they realized it could be their best chance to own a home. The following month they attended an informational workshop about the program hosted by our Homeownership team. Soon after, they completed the required HUD certified 8-hour Homebuyer Education class through Project Sentinel. By September 2019, after getting all their paperwork in – including lender pre-approval and all the required documentation – and after working closely with their REALTOR, lender, and Housing Trust staff, Sarah and Will were approved for an Empower Loan.
They ended up finding a newer house in Gilroy – exactly where they wanted to live. In December of 2019, the family moved in and got to celebrate Christmas in their new home.
“Working with the Housing Trust team was rigorous, as it should be for this type of loan. It was a detail oriented process. You have to be prepared for that,” said Sarah. “They were also super friendly and answered every question we had. We will always be thankful to Housing Trust and the County,” added Will.
The couple’s advice for people interested in the Empower Homebuyers SCC program: “Do it! Don’t hesitate. It is a life changing program. Be patient with the process. It will be a huge uplift.”
Owning their own home made it possible for Sarah and Will to host large gatherings before the COVID-19 pandemic had everyone social distancing. They look forward to being able to volunteer their house or backyard for school and community events once it is safe to have people over again. With Sarah teaching through distance learning, Caleb being online for third grade class, and Will also working from home, they feel fortunate to be settled into their much larger home when shelter-in-place began.
Although the number of chores have increased, they wouldn’t trade it for the “permanent home feeling” they have now. With owning a home checked off their list, they can continue pursuing their other dreams – giving back to the community they love and becoming a foster family.