Bernadette’s Return to Holidays at Home
Bernadette recalls memories of hosting holiday get-togethers at her former home. She loved getting all of her children together to celebrate the joy of the season. Unfortunately, when Bernadette had to downsize to a one-bedroom apartment, things changed. She no longer had room to host Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas mornings. Now with five grandchildren, Bernadette is eyeing a return to making holiday memories, only this time in a home of her own.
Bernadette always dreamed of owning. But like many in Milwaukee, she encountered significant barriers to first-time homeownership. Our city’s rental rates continue to rise faster than wages, making safe, stable housing increasingly unaffordable. For a lot of families earning below Milwaukee’s median income, that high cost of rent means little left over after all the bills are paid. This can make it extremely difficult to save up for a down payment or to be approved for a home loan.
Milwaukee Habitat breaks down the barriers to homeownership for families like Bernadette. Through our affordable homeownership program, she qualified to build a brand new three bedroom home in Milwaukee’s Midtown neighborhood. What’s more, Bernadette expects her mortgage payment to be nearly the same as what she’s paying to rent that one bedroom apartment.
“It’s going to be so much fun to have our first Christmas [in this house] with all the grandkids,” she says. “I used to be able to put lights up, but haven’t been able to do that [since moving into the one bedroom apartment]. I’m looking forward to that.”
In addition to hosting holidays, Bernadette sees this as an opportunity to improve her financial stability.
“When you own you have a better opportunity to build equity,” she says. “Plus it’ll help improve my credit.”
Studies show that US homeowners have an average net wealth 400% higher than that of renters with similar demographics and earnings. Homeownership has long been seen as a key driver to creating generational wealth.
Soon, Bernadette will once again have the space to host cherished family get togethers. And, for the first time, will be doing so in a home she can truly call her own.