Michelle Ballard loves the kitchen in her new home. She raves about her master suite and has plenty of room for her children.
Ballard is a new District of Columbia Housing Authority homeowner. After working to increase her credit score, taking a homeownership class with the District’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program, and receiving a HPAP grant, Ballard was able to purchase her home using her voucher for mortgage assistance If she follows the rules of the program, her voucher assistance will support her mortgage for up to 15 years.
“After 15 years I am on my own. Instead of making the landlords rich you gave a person who wants something and has a job, you gave them an opportunity to own a home,” Ballard said. “It benefits me because I became a homeowner. It benefits the government because after 15 years they are done. It is teaching a person to take care of themselves. It gives a person an opportunity to own something and to be more responsible.”
Ballard, who works as a housekeeping supervisor for a local hotel, said her inspiration was her children. She realized that she wanted to be sure they always had a home if something should happen to her. In a few years, she said, she would have equity in the home, which could help the family.
So she got to work.
“My credit score before I went to buy the house wasn’t that good,” said Ballard, who received a print out of her credit report. She began addressing the credit issues and started paying off the old debt. “Then I watched my score rise and rise.”
She then applied for DCHA’s Homeownership Assistance Program. She was accepted and enrolled in DCHA’s partner organization HPAP for a homeownership class.
“The HPAP class teaches you everything you need and need to do to be a home owner,” she said. ”They teach you how to get a real estate agent. Make sure the agent doesn’t have another job because they need to focus on you.”
The HPAP grant she received helped with her down payment. She met with Homeownership Coordinator Alice Revel, who introduced her to the process for identifying realtors, mortgage lender, and other individuals who could help her with the housing search. It was an educational process—Ballard said there was so much paperwork she had to turn in, including detailed bank statements and pay stubs.
“Women should be prepared…and know ahead of time what they will need and not go through what I went through,” she said. If she had known how extensive the paperwork was going to be “There are certain things I wouldn’t have done. Always make sure you have your bank information straight.”
She said she followed all of her instructions, handed over all of the information that was asked of her, and kept meetings with her representatives.
“It was a lot of heartache. It took almost a year. I didn’t think I was going to get my house,” Ballard said. “Once I got my bank loan approved, I started searching for my home. I picked out houses and my realtor would pick out houses and we would go house hunting.”
While time consuming, the inspection process within the homeownership program made Ballard feel secure about her new home. HPAP does an initial inspection of the home and has the seller fix any issues. Then DCHA does another independent inspection, ensuring the house is in good shape. Following the inspections, Ballard went to the closing meeting.
“Once I started signing the papers I said, ‘This is really happening!” Ballard said.
She added, “You end up with a nice house. HPAP and the voucher program aren’t investing their money in bad homes.”
She credited Revel for assisting her throughout the process, answering all of her questions, being responsive, and encouraging her to stick with it.
“I want people to know D.C. has a lot to offer and a lot of people don’t know it. D.C. has a lot of benefits for people who really want something. I just want people to feel what I felt,” Ballard said. “I was so happy when I got my house. It was amazing. I can’t put it into words.”