“Homeowners impact neighborhoods, and neighborhoods impact homeownership,” is not only a philosophical idea, it is one of the guiding principles of Homewise, a CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution) in New Mexico, helping people navigate the maze of successfully purchasing their own home.
I had an opportunity recently to speak with Johanna Gilligan, the Senior Director of Community Development at Homewise, and she explained that Homewise services are free- Homewise exists to help low to moderate-income earners purchase a home via education and financial tools. “We’ve even helped people who have previously experienced homelessness to become homeowners. It’s important to understand how achievable homeownership can be,” said Gilligan.
When someone comes to Homewise, they can meet with someone on the Home Ownership Consulting team, and that person becomes their guide through what can at times seem an impossible process.
“Homewise makes home ownership accessible to people who think they can’t own a home”
“A person’s rent or mortgage is generally the largest bill a person has every month,” said Gilligan. “When a person owns a home, the equity they build as the value of their home rises is like a piggy bank, and in Albuquerque, the price of owning a home is very close to the price of rent”
To provide an example of the many services and programs Homewise has, one is down payment assistance, in the form of a 0% loan.
“Down payment costs for a home in Albuquerque can easily run $20,000 to $40,000 in total costs, and so we make a 0% interest loan to qualifying homebuyers to help. As years go by, the home will increase in value, and when the homeowner sells, the loan is paid back to Homewise out of the profit,” said Gilligan. “This can be the piece of the puzzle that makes the difference for some people and allows them to buy.” (Down payment assistance is provided to qualifying low-income individuals).
In addition to helping people purchase homes, Homewise goes a step further and is involved in redeveloping neighborhoods. They’ve purchased former drug houses and rehabbed them; they build mixed-income developments and are working on adding commercial lending to their suite of services. “We can teach you how to buy a home, and when you’re ready, you can get your loan from us, and even buy a house from us.”
Here’s a short intro video from Homewise, and if you’re interested in their free services, reach out to Homewise, and they will get you started.