Cassandra Torres’s leaves renting behind, and becomes the first homeowner in her family.
Cassandra Torres, and her family were renters on Milwaukee’s North and South side for 17 years. “I lived in section 8 housing from age 5 to 22, then I went to college and started renting on my own.” She knows first hand what it’s like to rent in the city of Milwaukee, having experienced properties in poor condition, landlords that don’t care about their tenants, and unsustainable rental costs. Cassandra isn’t alone. Milwaukee County is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. Roughly half of Milwaukee County’s renter households are rent burdened, meaning they spend at least 30% of their income on rent*.
Is Homeownership more affordable than renting?
This was a huge part of Cassandra’s decision to begin her homebuying journey. She explained,
“I wanted stable housing and to not have to worry about rent increases, fake deposits, or bad living conditions.”
Cassandra was exploring affordable housing resources when she found Acts. She completed her virtual orientation and then started coaching with one of Acts’ HUD Certified Homebuyer coaches, Tony Bell. Together, Tony and Cassandra worked on mortgage pre-approval, grant applications, and becoming buyer ready. In April of 2023, Cassandra became a first time homebuyer, purchasing a City of Milwaukee tax foreclosure to rehab and make home.
When we asked Cassandra what she was most excited about, she said, “Not having to pay rent.” Previously, she was paying $850 a month in rent, her current mortgage saves her over $150 per month. She also excitedly told us about all the repairs, renovations, and upgrades she was making to her home. Before, if the walls were chipping or things were broken she waited on her landlord to fix it, but it often took an unreasonable amount of time or sometimes never happened. Cassandra was excited to tell us she has been working with some amazing contractors to renovate her home, and that she’s been putting in work installing new smoke detectors and flooring herself.
Experiences of housing instability can be traumatic events. Research conducted by Hatch & Yun has proven that individuals who experience an eviction are more likely to report being in poor general health or experiencing mental health concerns; increased levels of despair, anxiety, and insomnia even many years after an eviction (Housing Policy Debate).
Homeownership builds generational wealth
Cassandra is the first homeowner in her family, and by going from renting to owning has created housing stability and put her family on the path towards building generational wealth.
At Acts Housing, we believe every family deserves a chance at this. That’s why we provide families with the guidance and all the support needed to make homeownership dreams come true.
*Wisconsin Policy Forum