Programs Open Doors to Homes

Photo 1: People at desks eager to learn
These people are learning how they can buy a home of their own.

Photo 2: Graduates of the class display their certificates
Somos Familia Financial Literacy Class Picture.

A couple years ago Monique Ruelas wondered if she could ever buy a house again. She was able to buy a condo and then about a year later bought a house across the street from her parents. How? The people at Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County (NHS) helped her find a way. They are a HUD approved non-profit housing counseling agency.

Ms. Ruelas took classes and stuck with a 10-month program. She learned how to budget and save money. NHS helped her to manage finances herself. One of the classes many people take is the Somos Familia Financial Literacy Class. People who want to can learn the same things she did and more.

Once she took care of her credit and saved up for closing costs she got a bonus. In addition to her savings, money was added to it. One of the programs available matches part of the savings to encourage people to save more toward their goal of homeownership. A person's savings can be matched at a 3-1 rate. That means for every dollar she saved, they gave her three dollars more. It added up quickly.

She bought a two-bedroom condo using the money from her savings and a number of other programs designed to help people. Some programs were low interest loans. Parts of her payments were deferred for up to 30 years. One of them was a grant from the non-profit that did not need to be paid back if she met certain requirements.

About a year later the value of the condo had gone up. Monique had also gotten married. She applied the lessons she learned. She and her new husband had continued to save money. By refinancing the condo she paid back the money she borrowed through the programs. Using their savings and the extra money they came up with from refinancing, they were able to buy a house right across the street from her parents. The new house needed work so they bargained and got a good price. They continue to do the fix up needed.

She also kept the condo and rented it out to a friend. Yes, now a homeowner and a landlord. She started by meeting with a housing counseling agency.

Her success story is much more. So good, it was written up in the local major newspaper as a Sunday front-page article. (

Content Archived: August 17, 2011