Winterizing Your Home

 Getting Your Home Winter Ready 

Clean gutters and downspouts – Ensure that the water drains properly. Pooling water can cause damage to foundations, driveways and walkways

Drain and shut off exterior faucets and store hoses

Change your furnace filters – It is recommended that you change them monthly. Consider having a furnace check performed by a professional.

Change your batteries – Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working.

Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and reduce heating bills

Clean window wells and check drainage

Check attic vents

Check that the exhaust ducts are clear

A Double Rehab: The Arenal Family

A Double Rehab: The Arenal Family

Simon Arenal and his wife Gregoria Copto were intimidated by the ACTS rehab process and saw a total of four homes.

They were anxious until they found their home in the Clarke Square neighborhood and saw its potential.  

They purchased a city-tax foreclosure for $3,500 and received a $25,000 home rehab loan through ACTS Lending.  

ACTS realtor Tess Wynn said, at the time they closed on the property, it had three purchase offers.  

“It was a very hot, competitive property,” Wynn said. 

The family worked with Senior Rehab Counselor Ramon Guadarrama 

The home needed electrical work, had water damage on its first floor, had prior work done without a permit which needed to be redone, and needed an updated kitchen. 

In addition, the family worked on the bathroom floors, cabinetry, and more. They loved their bathroom tile so much they used leftover tile for the table in their dining room.

In total, the rehab project on the first unit took them just three months.

Simon said owning a home had been his family’s dream.  

“We’d been wanting to do this for a long time. Thank you to ACTS for helping us make it a reality,” Simon said.  

  While they are living in one part of the house, they are completing the rehab on the second part of the house. Simon says the second unit is where his brother will live.

‘We’re so happy to have something to take care of,” Simon said.

See the transition of repairs to the Arenal household below. 



Maria’s 10 Tips for a Successful Holiday Spending Plan

Maria’s 10 Tips for a Successful Holiday Spending Plan


The holidays are just around the corner, but the holidays don’t have to bust your budget. It’s possible to enjoy the holiday cheer and reach your goal of saving for a home.

Below are some tips from ACTS Housing’s Director of Homebuyer Counseling that can keep you on track as you plan to make holiday purchases.


  1.  Make a list: Generate a list with names of individuals you plan to buy for.
  2. Check it twice: Assign a spending limit for each person and stick to the amount you budget.
  3. Start early: The more time you give yourself to shop, the more bargain-conscious you can afford to be. There are great deals to be had before the shopping season officially begins.
  4. Double check for accuracy: Everyone makes mistakes, even the person ringing up your sale. And with long lines at the register, it’s even more likely. Check your receipt to make sure you were charged correctly.
  5. Save your receipts: After checking for accuracy, put your receipts somewhere you will be able to find them later. That way you can track your spending as you go, but also efficiently return items if need be.
  6. Carry a visual reminder of your homebuying goal with you when shopping.
  7. Use a layaway plan when available. It helps you stop from buying on impulse, without thinking. Layaway plans do not have finance charges like credit cards do.
  8. Use the money you have. Try to pay with cash, check or debit card instead of a credit card.
  9. Ask yourself hard questions. DO I really need to spend the money? Is buying your home more important than the material items you will be purchasing?  (Need: something you/family has to have. Want: something you/family would like to have).
  10. Continue to save. Most important, continue to put money in the savings account for the purchase of the home. Do not stop saving during the holiday!

Anthony Bell: From Curiosity to Counselor

Meet the ACTS team! You’ve stumbled upon an ACTS Team Member spotlight. These spotlights, published once a month, share what our team members do each day to make ACTS a success.

                               Anthony Bell

Anthony “Tony” Bell, ACTS homebuyer counselor, is known for breaking the ice during orientations by asking attendees what their favorite breakfast food item is.

It’s a way to get to know the attendees, but also ease his nervousness. “As I start talking and connecting with the group my nerves settle a bit,” he said.

Originally from Benton Harbor, Mich., a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, Anthony never saw himself doing homebuyer counseling.

He has held other jobs, but it was a referral from a friend at church that got him interested in ACTS Housing. The training part of the position appealed to him.

“I thought I should give it a try,” he said. “I was always curious and wanted to understand the homebuying process more.”

One of the best parts of the job for him is when he gets family feedback. “The feedback is unsolicited, and it makes me feel as though I am helping them,” he said.

A family completing their homebuying journey is the other piece. The pride in the accomplishment extends from the family to him.

“Now when a family gets their approval letter for a loan and closes that’s huge,” Tony said. “That’s when I’m most proud.”


Jenean Shorter Makes Homeowner Dreams Come True

Meet the ACTS team! You’ve stumbled upon an ACTS Team Member spotlight. These spotlights, published once a month, share what our team members do each day to make ACTS a success.

                             Jenean Shorter

Jenean Shorter, ACTS realtor, specializes in making dreams come true. She beams with pride when she discusses the light in one of her homebuyers’ faces when they saw the home they loved.

“She said ‘yes, this is the one,” Jenean recalled. This isn’t the first time a homeowner has fallen in love with a home she has showed them.

A typical work day for her involves nonstop home showings and submitting paperwork on behalf of her homebuyers.

Before becoming a realtor Jenean would spend her breaks from work looking at houses. She took that as a sign that she should pursue a career in real estate. She found the process fascinating after purchasing her own home nine years ago.

“I didn’t want to go back,” she said of her career in banking.

In order to inspire, Jenean draws upon her own experience.

“I was always scared to do it,” Jenean said.

She says the most exciting part of her deals are families finding the perfect house. As an ACTS realtor, Jenean plays a pivotal role in outreach to schools, one of which is St. Marcus.

Two out of three of her children attend the school, so she has a personal interest in ensuring the children have as much stability as her own.

“To see us having St. Marcus advocates to promote ACTS, to say ‘it does work’ I hope it gets more parents through the program,” she said.

Her advice to those who are afraid to make the first move toward homeownership includes changing your mindset. “It’s not as hard as you think,” she said. “It’s much more affordable than renting and it’s a place to call your own.”

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ACTS Housing’s mission is to promote affordable home ownership that fosters a low-income family’s ability to be self-empowered, thereby reducing community blight, neighborhood deterioration, and poverty. ACTS’ strategy is to generate home ownership opportunities for inner-city residents within a targeted neighborhood so that an entire community can be transformed and sustained. ACTS’ team provides home buying services throughout the city of Milwaukee.
2414 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53205 USA 391837474