“When I’m old enough, I’m going to buy you a house,” Sergio Perez told his mom. It was the best gift he could think of for his mother, Leticia. Sergio, his sister Bianca and their mother had been homeless, moving from relative to relative after her divorce.
Although the three were without a home, they never seemed to be without each other. There is a bond…and a palpable tenderness among the three of them—even with a teenage boy and a pre-teen girl!
“I couldn’t see any way out for the kids and me,” said Leticia. “Even after I got the divorce, we had to all live in the same house. I had been saving to get a used car for Sergio…but he insisted that I take that money and get us an apartment. We lived on that in a one-bedroom place for a while but then had to look to our family for places to stay. It was very hard.”
Leticia didn’t think she could ever qualify to get a home of her own. Although she has a steady job, her income is just enough to live on—not enough to save for a down payment.
When Leticia went to USDA Rural Development she met two women who helped her change her life. Sonia Romero and Gerri Robinson work out of the Green Valley Office. At a recent event to celebrate Homeownership Month, they joined Leticia and her family in their beautiful new home.
Sonia noted that in all the time that she worked with the family to try to help them qualify for and find a home, she had never seen Leticia without both of her kids with her. “Yeah, we’re always there for each other,” Leticia said, “and really, Sonia and Gerri motivated us to not give up on our dream of getting a home!”
Leticia’s credit suffered following her divorce and it took her some time to build up her good credit again. It had been a tough road to the sweet street where their home sits. Both children have ongoing medical issues and Leticia had major surgery the day before we met her for the presentation. “I could have stayed in the hospital another day, but I didn’t want to miss today,” she said.
With the help of Sonia and Gerri, Leticia got her credit cleaned up and found several homes that she made offers on. “I would be so disappointed when I would find a home I liked and then my bid wouldn’t be accepted,” Leticia said. “We were staying in neighborhoods where I worried about my kids. I wanted them to be somewhere stable and safe.” She said she was glad it worked out the way it did, because this house is so perfect for the family. Driving up the pleasant street to the home, you get the sense that Leticia found the stable, safe neighborhood she envisioned for her children.
They have a two-story home with a large backyard. Although it has four bedrooms, Leticia said that her utilities cost half of what she was paying at her rental. The home is newer and has many energy efficient features.
“I still need to landscape the backyard and get furniture for my bedroom,” Leticia noted, “but our dream has come true.”
To find out how USDA can make your homeownership dream come true, click here.