We’re back with another edition of Good News Tues to spread a little joy from our Habitat family to yours. We’re all in this together. Here’s hoping this brings a little light to your day.
Tennille’s Financial Independence Day
For 14 years, Tennille had been renting a one-bedroom apartment in one of Milwaukee’s housing developments. The low-income housing complex adjusts rent based on a tenant’s wages. When Tennille first moved in, she was paying a modest $300 per month in rent.
However, over the years as Tennille’s wages increased, her rent followed suit. Her rent had nearly tripled for that same one bedroom apartment she had moved into 14 years ago.
“They never came and touched up the place,” says Tennille. “It was the same old carpet as when I moved in, but the rent kept going up.”
Taking matters into her own hands, Tennille began taking classes through Housing Resources Inc. in order to prepare herself for homeownership. She worked hard to get her finances in order. However, saving wasn’t any easier since her rent went up every time she got a wage increase.
For so many families in our community, the inability to save is directly tied to the high cost of rent. Right now, 1 in 3 Milwaukee renters are paying half or more of their income on rent. After other bills are paid, a lot of families are left living paycheck to paycheck. At Habitat, we believe that a family should never have to pay more than 30% of their income on housing. Our affordable homeownership program is helping families invest in themselves and save for the future.
The financial counseling from Housing Resources Inc. paid off and Tennille was accepted into Habitat’s affordable homeownership program. However, she was a little hesitant about the hundreds of hours in construction, home maintenance and financial planning courses required to become a Habitat homeowner.
“The sweat equity is a lot of time to invest on top of everything else you’ve got going on, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Surrounded by friends, family, volunteers and Habitat staff, Tennille got the keys to her very own Habitat home. She touts this as her “grown woman decision.” With this home, she hopes to be able to raise a family. Additionally, with the money she’ll save through Habitat’s affordable mortgage she hopes to eventually open a childcare facility.
“My goal is to open an early childhood center,” says Tennille. “The savings will open that door for me.”