Stephanie Osuji is looking forward to enjoying the fruits of her labor. The first thing she’d like to do in her new home is host a barbecue.
Stephanie at her home closing, December 2018
She purchased her home, a duplex on Milwaukee’s North side, through ACTS for $1,000 in December and is the recipient of a $25,000 ACTS home rehab loan.
She worked three jobs seven days a week: at her childcare business, as a personal care worker, and took a part-time job at Wendy’s to be able to afford her dream of homeownership. All the while she was taking care of her son.
But she was motivated by Director of Homebuyer Counseling Maria Santos.
“She told me what I needed to do,” she said.
Stephanie initially wanted a more move-in ready home; however, homeownership with little to no debt after purchase was attractive to her.
“This house will be paid off in five years and I can kinda make it my own,” she said. “Once I wrapped my head around the idea I figured you have to do what you have to do.”
She is working with contractors on the lower level on the plumbing, flooring, and electrical to be able to move in in the next two months.
Stephanie says she found her home by chance. She saw three other homes, but they were in bad shape.
“It sort of fell out of the sky. God said ‘here you go,” she said. “I also couldn’t beat that price.”
She is the first person in her immediate family to own their own home. She hopes to lead by example and get her other family members to ACTS.
Her family has been particularly helpful in her journey.
“I was fortunate to have family and friends to help me.” she said. “I was blessed all around.”
Angel purchased his first home earlier this month in the Franklin Heights neighborhood. His home sale also marked a first for ACTS.
ACTS Lending, the affiliate nonprofit of ACTS Housing, has increased its microloan amount from $25,000 to $50,000 and expanded its use to include purchase. Angel was the first ACTS homebuyer to receive the increased loan amount for his home rehab.
Director of Lending and Home Rehab Priya Bhatia believes the new amount will connect families to more opportunity.
“The increased loan amount gives ACTS families a better opportunity to find a home in today’s real estate market that meets their needs,” she said. “And we continue to keep the affordability issue front and center.”
Recipients of the increased loan amount can expect monthly payments of $500 or less which includes principal, taxes, and insurance. The interest rate on the new loan will remain six percent.
Bhatia says the $500 monthly payment is at or below the cost of rent for most borrowers.
Angel described himself as ‘very excited’ to finally be a homeowner. His ACTS real estate agent Jenean Shorter is just as pleased.
His home requires a $53,000 rehab project including structural, electrical, and plumbing work. Shorter says the loan will help him tackle it.
“City homes need a lot of work,” she said. “The new loan amount will give families the opportunity to purchase homes that need more repairs and do what they need to do to live in it.”
Angel has already started cleaning and painting the home just two weeks in to being a homeowner.
He says he had a good experience and he would ‘absolutely recommend’ ACTS to potential homebuyers.
“I was looking around, I saw the list, and I found the house,” he said.
Photos of the house before Angel’s rehab project.
In August 2018, Bruce heard about ACTS Housing and called about next steps.
“I decided I would attend orientation and see what happens,” he said. He purchased a four-bedroom, move-in ready home in the Rufus King neighborhood.
He is preparing to move into it by the end of the month.
Bruce worked with ACTS realtor Tess Wynn, and said he saw a couple homes–including one that is up the street from the one he purchased.
“I knew I had to get this house,” he said. “It feels different from any home I’ve ever lived in.”
Bruce cites the room sizes and kitchens as selling points.
“Instead of just large rooms, they’re sectioned off and there’s a fireplace.”
His favorite room is the kitchen which he fell in love with upon seeing its photo on a listing.
“Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses,” he said.
When he’s not working, he readies the home for move-in for his family.
His current project is taking dimensions of the living room and bedrooms for furniture.
He is on the lookout for furniture and just installed a stainless steel refrigerator in the kitchen. He put a light sensor in the restroom.
Bruce’s advice to those looking to purchase: just do it. He notes ACTS’ family-first approach.
“ACTS is patient…they really work with you to get you the type of house that you want. They’re not just sending you on a hunt to hurry up and finish.”
Upon meeting Horacio, it’s evident he’s proud of his home. He frequently displays the home’s progress on his Snapchat.
Sitting cozy on Milwaukee north side, he and members of his family (including his 74-year-old grandfather) have been working hard on the home rehab: insulation, finishing walls, pulling up carpets and refinishing the original hardwood floors.
“It’s been a lot of work,” he said. “But we’re almost finished.”
He worked for five months getting the home code compliant after purchasing it for $3,500 in May. The family moved in in September.
Horacio hopes to complete the cosmetic rehab projects in another six months.
Among the projects left to complete is adding a fireplace console.
Previously, Horacio and his wife Maria rented a small two-bedroom apartment.
Living in a 4-bedroom, single-family house has taken some adjustment.
“Sometimes it feels like it’s too big,” he said.
The neighborhood has them smitten. Horacio knows his neighbors: a janitor to the right of him and a third-shift worker to the left.
“This area is good,” he said. “And quiet.”
Johnnie Ashley couldn’t believe her ears when she was told she was done paying off her home rehab loan.
“It was mindblowing,” she said. “I went and told my church.”
Johnnie purchased her home on Highland Blvd in 2016 and completed a rehab project that included updating the kitchen and plumbing.
She lived in the home as a renter for five years before purchasing it from the city after it went into foreclosure.
“I just went for it,” she said.
She says she also worked closely with ACTS rehab counselors to have her roof repaired and ACTS volunteers cleaned her attic and basement.
“It was amazing,” she said of the household volunteer help she received. “I needed that done.”
The city, she says, gave her first-offer to purchase.
She is satisfied with her home although it may need a little bit more cosmetic work.
She’d like to remodel the bathroom and add a walk-in shower. A deck in the back yard. Knock out a wall and make her kitchen bigger.
Paying off her ACTS loan now gives her freedom to make those repairs.
“It’s a relief,” she said. “A big relief. I can’t believe I paid it off.”
Her home is a hotspot for Sunday dinner and other family get-togethers.
“All I have to do is tell them I’m cooking,” she said.