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CHPC Resident Buys First Home with IDA Program

It’s easy to visualize the materials that go into building a home, but what about the people behind those materials? A lot of people dream of owning their first home, but many of them don’t have to pick up a hammer and nails to make that dream come true.

That’s part of what Geraldine Goffney had to do in order to make her dream become a reality. A long-time resident at Blue Ridge Commons (BRC), a Community Housing Partners (CHPC) multi-family property in Charlottesville, Virginia, Goffney enjoyed living in the community, which gave her the tools to dream of a place she and her two boys Dorian, 17, and Trey, 12, could call their own.
“Living at a CHPC property was nice, and my boys really enjoyed it. They’re both really involved in the resident services there, so they were always going places, doing something, and staying active. But I really wished we had our own house,” she said.

In came the power of CHPC’s resident services and Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries (CALM) with an opportunity. As part of their resident services for BRC, CALM provides 20 adults the chance to participate in an Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program, which gives low-income and low-wealth families money management education to save and build assets. IDA’s reward their monthly savings with matched savings accounts to help families buy their first home, pay for post-secondary education or start a small business.

At first, Goffney wasn’t too sure about participating in the IDA program. “I was kind of scared that I wouldn’t be able to save or receive much, so at first I decided not to worry about doing it. But [the people in resident services] said, ‘Come on, give it a try,’ so I thought, ‘I’ll give it a chance.’”
After going through the year-long process of learning about credit, managing a budget, and listening to guest speakers, Goffney decided it was a good decision. During one of their meetings, she listened to Habitat for Humanity volunteers explain how families can use “sweat equity” to build and own their first home. So, she decided to take another chance.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville works with future Habitat homeowners to invest hundreds of hours of their labor – “sweat equity” – to build their own house. Not only was she surprised that she was approved, but she was also surprised about the amount of work she had to put in to build the duplex that she would eventually move in to.

“It was hard,” she said. “But I did it, and my oldest son helped, too, when he wasn’t in school or at practice. There were a lot of times when my future neighbor and I would just sit on the floors before the house was done and wonder what it would be like. I couldn’t wait for it to be done.”

Eventually, the hard work paid off, and Goffney and her boys were able to move in and celebrate at a ribbon cutting on March 19. Representatives from CHPC, Habitat for Humanity, local churches and schools joined with the two families who had moved into the blue duplex which is just two blocks down from her old apartment at BRC. Goffney said she loves everything about her new home, from the deck where she can entertain guests, to the porch where she can sit and watch her boys play basketball in the cul-de-sac. She spends a lot of time with her video camcorder watching her boys enjoy their new community. In fact, another Habitat duplex is in the process of being built right next door.

Goffney said she felt so blessed that a single-mother like herself could find opportunities to own and afford her first home. “It was a long learning process, but dreams can come true if you give it a chance,” she said. “It brings tears to your eyes, but also joy to your heart in the long run.”