My Money. My Future. Prepares Potential Homeowners
Homeownership is an essential part of the American Dream, but many hardworking families have very few opportunities to even hope to own their own home. At Atlanta Habitat, we understand that the road to homeownership can be rocky. But we know, from 35 successful years of empowering families to work relentlessly toward their dreams, that it can be done.
We’ve noticed that often, when a family is on the waiting list, the hurdle they find most daunting is the financial discipline needed to stay on track to own a home. That’s why, with a generous grant from the Atlanta Women’s Foundation and Country Financial, our Family Services department developed a comprehensive, one year-long financial literacy program, My Money. My Future.
“The majority of individuals are denied a home loan because of either insufficient income or low credit,” says Jacolvy Garcia, who coordinates the program. He says it’s challenging to get individuals to understand financial literacy when their family, perhaps for generations, has never owned a home or known true stability. “My Money. My Future. is like nothing we’ve ever done before. It’s much more expansive compared to financial workshops.”
My Money. My Future. focuses on those who have been denied a home loan or who are currently applying for Atlanta Habitat’s first-time homebuyer program. The program shows participants how to address the issues that may keep them from qualifying for a home loan. “A key part of the program is working with participants to develop and achieve financial goals,” Jacolvy notes that My Money. My Future. is a HUD-certified education course and participants will have one-on-one counseling with a certified housing counselor for an average of 14 hours. “At completion of the course, participants will not only be in a stronger financial position but be HUD certified to participate in our program, as well as other home buying programs.”
DiAnna G. a program participant, says this kind of intensive program personalization is the only way she can even imagine owning her own home. Her son is ill and medical bills have devastated her finances. “My Money. My Future. is helping me step-by-step,” she says. “It’s such a relief to know there is someone on this walk with me. I feel like I can get back to living and planning again!” DiAnna is one of 47 participants in this first cohort.
In addition to basic and advanced financial literacy, My Money. My Future. participants have access to a host of other opportunities, scholarships and classes that provide key professional training like resume building, public speaking, strategic job searching, leadership skills and entrepreneurial training. To top off the financial benefits of the program, Atlanta Habitat is offering a savings match of up to $300 upon completion and each participant who is accepted into our home purchase program will earn 25 sweat-equity hours towards the first 50 hours required before they select a lot and begin building their new home.