Over the past two years, Monique Drayton signed up for the Rent Reporting and Credit Building Program with the District of Columbia Housing Authority. She attended every webinar and Zoom meeting about homeownership offered by the District of Columbia and its community organizations. As she learned more in each class, she came up with a financial strategy. And then, in March 2021, all of her hard work paid off. Drayton bought a home for her family.
“I’ve literally done just about every housing program that is offered to residents. Honestly,” said Drayton, a former Woodland Terrace resident. “I didn’t grow up with the do’s and don’t’s of how to save money…A lot of those programs helped me manage my incoming funds and gave me a start to financial literacy.”
In some of her programs, such as D.C. Opens Doors and the city’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program, Drayton began learning about the importance of her credit score, she enrolled in credit monitoring and took various classes to learn more about budgeting and money management. She learned even more as a participant in DCHA’s Family Self-Sufficiency program and even recently enrolled in
“I think that program should be flooded. If you have residents like me who are paying their rent on time you will get the benefit of credit,” said Drayton, who said the ease of online payments to Rent Café made paying her rent every month much easier and helped to raise her credit score by 200 points.
She went through several D.C. programs, but those programs didn’t mesh with her family’s needs. But she found success in FSS and its homeownership classes.
“The FSS program put me in the mindset of you are ready. You can do it. It literally came at the end when I had almost given up on my home buying purchase. Nobody wants to help me I reached out to this organization and that organization. FSS made me understand I was in a better position than I thought. It gave me the extra education I needed to fulfill my homeownership dream. It came just in time,” said Drayton, a 20-year employee with the U.S. Postal Service. The FSS staff “gave me my smile back when I wasn’t smiling. [They] gave me that hope.”
In addition to the personal encouragement and case management, FSS staff hosted classes that featured financial consultants, realtors, creditors, home inspectors and more. Drayton learned about the process of homeownership and the different things a buyer needs to know about, such as inspections and closing costs. All of the classes broke down the entire process for Drayton, she said. The instructors fully explained new terms and what is part of the contracting or appraisal process, for example.
The classes “gave you a taste of everybody’s organization. By me having a taste and what they can offer, it made it easier for me to manage what I wanted to do at the end of building my credit up and saving for my down payment. It gave me a structure to follow to get to the end.”
Drayton said she and her family went on a budget and saved as much as they could for a down payment. In the end, with help from her realtor, she was able to secure a mortgage from a local bank and got credit for closing costs. She also is in the process of getting a credit from her participation in the FSS program. FSS participants are eligible for Incentive Investments based on their length of enrollment or completion of one of the pathways to success in homeownership, education, or employment.
“I bought my home with no funds from anybody but myself. Nobody gave me a dime,” Drayton said. “If it meant I couldn’t buy tennis shoes for a year, I have sneakers. I will wear my tennis shoes until there are holes in the bottom. I was going to get my dream home.”
In order to find her dream home, Drayton worked with her realtor to tour houses in Southeast. She did not want to buy anywhere but Ward 8. She said she looked at some 15 houses before finding the perfect home for her and her family.
“I only looked in ward 8. I was adamant about not leaving Southeast. I kept looking and kept looking until one day I saw this house,” she said.
And that was it. She loved it. Her kids loved it. And the realtor helped to make sure her loan provider would approve the mortgage.
“It is so beautiful when I come outside with the sun shining. It is a nice house and my family loves it. It is a beautiful home,” she said. “I haven’t even cried yet, but I know it is going to come. I haven’t had the chance to settle and literally say, “Wow! I have my own home. I haven’t had that joy yet. But I think it will come.”