March 25, 2018

Many property managers would be discouraged to learn that a reliable tenant had found another place to live. But when Tara Smith, a resident of Heron Woods Apartments in Inverness, Florida, announced that she was moving into her newly purchased home, the staff at Community Housing Partners (CHP) were overjoyed.

Smith, a single mother of four who works at a local daycare center, decided to purchase a home to give her kids something when she’s not there. “I don’t have much to give them, but at least this way I have an investment that I can give them,” she said.

When Smith first moved into Heron Woods, she learned about a program that puts 5 percent of her monthly payment toward the down payment on a house. At the time, Smith thought that homeownership was an unattainable goal, but eventually she reached out to CHP Homeownership of Florida to explore her options.

“All of our residents want to own a home, so we work hard to let our residents know about a lot of the homeownership services,” said Mindy Juillerat, Resident Services Coordinator at Heron Woods, who explained that she refers clients like Smith to CHP’s homeownership team for educational programs and financial counseling.

Jennifer Pollard, Community Relations Coordinator for CHP Homeownership of Florida, explained that Smith’s homeownership plan involved budgeting and credit paydown. “She was committed from the get-go,” Pollard said. “Everything that we told her she needed to do, she did it.”

With CHP’s help, Smith found a home just a few blocks from Heron Woods.

“As soon as we found this house in this neighborhood, it was instant,” Pollard said. “She knew this one was the one. Being in the same neighborhood as Heron Woods, the kids could still play with all the kids they grew up with.”

Smith’s daughter, Kalynn, agreed that the home was the right choice.

“When I first came in, I was overjoyed,” Kalynn Smith said. “This is finally something that we can call ours and not have to worry about anything else. It’s just ours.”

CHP offers homeownership services in both Florida and Virginia, where staff members help clients improve their knowledge and comfort with the homebuying process and enjoy the convenience of a one-stop shopping experience. Last year, CHP Homeownership helped 87 clients like Smith become homeowners. They also provided education to 169 households and coaching to 134 households.

Smith hopes that even more clients will pursue homeownership when they hear her story.

“I want to be an inspiration to other single moms out there that you can do it,” Smith said. “I didn’t think I could do it, and look where I’m at now.”