For the past 20 years, Kennette Dike and her boys were living in an apartment in the Park Morton community. After working hard to educate herself by attending seminars, and searching for a house that fits her family’s needs, she is now a proud homeowner in Southeast.
“Oh my God, I’m so glad I’m gone. I love my little house,” Dike said.
The District of Columbia Housing Authority has been working to relocate Park Morton residents as the community is in the midst of a redevelopment. DCHA staff held several community meetings to explain the process and the options that were available to residents, from how to receive and use a voucher to homeownership.
“I got a letter in the mail from DCHA inviting me to one of their seminars. I was ready to go,” Dike said. “I kept pursuing it. I was the only one in the group who became a homeowner. It was time for a change. I needed the space. I outgrew the apartment. I wanted something to call my own. I wanted my house.”
Instead of a two-bedroom apartment, her boys now have their own bedrooms. She has a basement and a yard she wants to fix up. She has a beautiful kitchen, two and a half bathrooms, and her own washer and dryer.
“I’m proud of myself,” she said. “The process was a headache every now and then, but it paid off.”
Dike, a D.C. government employee since 2009, was able to use her replacement voucher to assist with her mortgage as part of DCHA’s Homeownership Assistance Program. She also attended classes with D.C.’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP), which also provided her with funds that were used for closing.
“I knew my budget going into this because I had to write down everything I had to pay. My budget plan is good,” said Dike, who learned in her classes about financial management, how to search for a realtor, and the do’s and don’ts of the housing search.
“Make sure when you check your house check for everything. I made sure everything was working. If something had to be fixed, I got it fixed. When I got home from work I had to run papers over to the mortgage company, but I did it.’
She discovered some issues with her credit. She made a plan and paid it off quickly. Now her credit is top notch. Once she was on the hunt for housing, it took a few months to find the right home. She was outbid on the first house she wanted. But when she saw her home in Southeast, she claimed it. Her moving day was moved a few days, but she stayed in a positive mind frame and told herself it was more time to pack. She was on her way. Dike and her family moved in on December 23, 2020—just in time for the holidays.
“I pat myself on the back. I say I’m home. It worked in my favor. I did what I had to do and had good people in my corner,” said Dike, who noted DCHA Homeownership Coordinator Alice Revel encouraged her the entire time and kept her going. “I did what I had to do for my kids. I made sure they had their own room. I just wanted to get away from all the activities…I just wanted to go.”
In addition to using her voucher to assist with the mortgage, DCHA was able to provide Dike with some furniture, like beds and tables, thanks to donations from Sonder, which the Dike family greatly appreciated. Sonder is a tech-enabled hospitality company that aims to redefine the travel experience through inspiring design and modern service that has made several donations of gently used furniture and appliances to DCHA.
Dike wanted to share encouragement to her former neighbors.
“This is for the people who live in Park Morton, if you want to make a change and better yourself then go for it. It is a good change. And you have to be a working person to get what I got. You got to be able to do it. It was a challenge but I did it. Doing the paperwork, running back and forth to the mortgage place, getting papers, but I did it. I feel good about it. I’m proud of myself. Each of those tenants up there, I think they should go for it,” Dike said. “You just got to put your mind to it and go for it. That is what I wanted. I didn’t stop until I got it.”
She added, “This is what I wanted. I branched out and did what I did for my family. I’m going to have cookouts and let it do what it do.”