Veteran Finds Secure Cover
There was a time when American counted on Ubaldo Diaz for its safety. The US Army Ranger was part of covert operations in Afghanistan and Kuwait. While he really can’t talk about his service because it’s classified, we do know he received an honorable discharge. The transition to civilian life, however, didn’t go well. Familial relations suffered, drugs took a toll, and an unstable job record put Ubaldo on the streets for months at a time. Fortunately, he found out about BNT just before the Milestone Building which reserved units for veterans was completed. “After roaming Connecticut streets for three years and sleeping in cars. BNT changed my life a lot. Now I could do whatever I put my mind to. I work on my relationships especially with my daughter. Today, I thank God and I thank these people at BNT.”
Tears to Cheers
Last fall Elisha Jackson says she was a ball of emotions, crying daily because she didn’t know where she was going to live. While she had a job and income it still wasn’t enough, so she was about to be evicted come winter. With an infant and two other children in hand she found herself walking down State Street toward downtown when she saw a window sign on a building that suggested help from eviction. So, she went through the door and was surprised at what she had found; a welcoming receptionist and a group of people at Building Neighborhoods Together who surprisingly called her back in 30 minutes with a solution to her problem. A newly built 515 West Avenue BNT constructed apartment building would become her new home. Elisha says today she has a newly built two-bedroom apartment with good neighbors and new friends at Building Neighborhoods Together (BNT). Elisha says at Christmas time BNT bought her children toys and when her refrigerator needed repair, they surprised her with a gift card to purchase food. Today, Elisha says she is progressing at her job at the Holiday Inn which is walking distance from her home. Next, she expects to take Empowerment Resource Academy classes at BNT for first time homebuyers. “I want to buy a house one day” says Ms. Jackson. She added, “I was discouraged and though nobody really cared, I guess I was wrong. The folks at BNT are just a phone call away.”
First Time Homebuyers
Xiomara Lugo, originally of the Dominican Republic, may have lived in the United States for 26 years, but there was something still missing for the wife, mother and grandmother. She didn’t have her very own home but that all changed when her and her husband Raul heard about BNT and Housing Counselor Heidie Colon-Rosa. Heidie first helped Xiomara improve her credit score which had been their stumbling block to the American Dream. Xiomara says in Spanish of Heidie, “She’s a great person and works hard for people like me.” Xiomara learned how to communicate with creditors and negotiate the process. Then after the Lugos fixed their credit they took classes with BNT’s Empowerments Resource Academy which made translators available to them to translate the financial literacy lessons. Eventually they got through their classes and saved for a down payment. Then Heidie connected them with someone who found them a home in Bridgeport. Now Xiomara says they have a home for their kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces and for visits from extended family members. They love Sundays when after church they gather around the kitchen table. “We thank God for the house and are grateful for BNT. We can recommend BNT to others, but they must be persistent to go through the process. BNT ‘son como familia’. It’s because of them we have our home.” Xiomara says having a home brings them comfort and makes them a part of the community.
Ebony & Jesus
Ebony Cody and Jesus Diaz’s dream was to purchase a home to provide stability for their family and to be an investment in their future, but like many eager first time home-buyers they didn’t know where to start. After searching online and trying to make sense of the home-buying process, they found Building Neighborhoods Together via bntweb.org.
It started with a meeting with Lizbeth DiFabbio, BNT’s Senior Housing Educator, in June of 2014, discussing credit, budget, affordability, and short and long term goals. Lizbeth guided them and they soon began to see an improvement in their financial capabilities with an increase in their score and budget. The three of them continued to meet several more times for progress checks.
In December of 2014, Ebony and Jesus took Building Neighborhoods Together’s eight hour Pre-Purchase Education course and felt that they were on a good track. At the class they met several business partners that they felt could help them and be part of their home-buying team.
After some setbacks, they stayed focused on their goals and in March of 2015 went to Total Mortgage and got a pre-approval. They then contacted Eddie Gutierrez, a real estate agent and found a home in Danbury.
“It was an absolute pleasure working with Ebony and Jesus.” said Eddie Gutierrez, “BNT helped prepare them about a lot of the aspects associated to the process which helped me tremendously since they purchased a short sale. Thanks to BNT’s class, they knew that they needed to be patient in waiting for bank approval of the sale, negotiating counter offers, and eventually solidifying their own CHFA financing through Total Mortgage.”
They closed on the loan with Attorney Richard Shapiro in August of 2015. Home sweet home!
“Ebony and Jesus showed composure and patience during the difficulties associated with a short sale. They were excited to finally get to the end of it, and I was happy for them.” commented Attorney Richard Shapiro.
Ebony Cody was over-joyed to see her dream come true, “Our family looks forward to many years and new memories to be made in our first home!”