HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD Reg. VI 09-39
Patricia Campbell
(817) 978-5974
For Release
April 17, 2009

Funding will provide access to education, employment and homeownership counseling

FORT WORTH - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today awarded $545,268 to the El Paso Housing Authority to connect public housing residents with education, job training, employment services and homeownership counseling available in El Paso, with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency. Sandra Robles, an El Paso public housing resident for 24 years, is now a homeowner thanks to the help provided through a ROSS grant, and her story follows.

"These grants help families on their way to economic independence," said C. Donald Babers, HUD Region VI Deputy Regional Director. "Whether it's taking classes to get a better job or learning what it takes to become a homeowner, these grants help public housing residents achieve their personal and career goals."

The funding, part of $27,960,860 awarded nationally today, is provided through HUD's Resident Opportunities and
Self Sufficiency (ROSS) - Service Coordinators
program. These grants are awarded to public housing authorities (PHAs), resident organizations or non-profit organizations acting on behalf of residents to encourage and promote self-sufficiency among residents.

The ROSS program gives grantees the funding to hire a Service Coordinator to assess residents' needs and link them with local resources that provide job training and placement, education and training opportunities, computer training, financial literacy and homeownership counseling. The funding is also used to provide supportive services such as childcare, and transportation to help families take advantage of training and employment opportunities.

For 24 years, Sandra Robles lived in Alvarez, a 96-unit public housing community in the Lower Valley managed by the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Texas. She said she entered public housing because her job as a bus driver did not cover the costs of living while raising her 2-year-old son. As time progressed, Ms. Robles adjusted and established friendships with her neighbors, who she said looked out for one another.

"I always wanted to move out, but I didn't think I had the means to because my salary was very low," Ms. Robles said.

Despite the challenges, Ms. Robles successfully raised her son who now lives on his own, but continued to dream of raising her 6-year-old daughter, Alyssa, the "right way." In September 2007, Ms. Robles grabbed life by the bootstraps, mustered up her courage, and enrolled in HACEP's ROSS Homeownership Program. The program
individually prepares each participant for the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a home through a variety of ways that may include locating better jobs, attaining higher levels of education, computer classes, credit repair counseling, child care, savings investments and substance abuse counseling. Partnerships with El Paso Affordable Housing, the YWCA, El Paso's First Time Homebuyer's Program and the El Paso Collaborative provide additional counseling, financial literacy and down-payment assistance initiatives.

"The counselor at HACEP was very, very helpful," Ms. Robles said. "She sent me to a lot of presentations and a lot
of classes. The program helped me to budget my money and improve my credit to buy a house."

Fifteen months after enrolling in HACEP's Homeownership program, Ms. Robles closed on her dream home in
December 2008. She said she had looked at more than 30 properties before falling in love with a modest three bedroom, two bath, single-level ranch with tiled floors and private back yard in a quiet Eastside neighborhood.

"It's freedom and liberation," she said. "It's very important to go through HACEP because they help you to
understand that you can dream of having your own house and make it come true."

Ms. Robles continues to attend a series of post-homeownership courses to ensure her financial stability and monthly mortgage commitments. Since HACEP's homeownership program was created in 2003, 66 former public housing
families like Sandra Robles are now proud homeowners. Ms. Robles proves that even in today's tough economy, homeownership is a viable possibility for individuals with a wide range of income levels.

"I continue to work very hard to be where I'm at," said Ms. Robles. "I encourage others to continue growing, and eventually your dreams will come true, too."


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