One moment in April, 2011 turned Sara Cloutier’s and Carlos Gonzalez’s lives upside down. The couple lost a dear friend—and their home—when Sara found their landlord dead from a heart attack. Sara rented from him since she was 18 and he had wanted to sell the couple the house in Bethlehem, N.H. They saved for a year to make that happen, but instead, their landlord’s family put the house on the market.
Carlos and Sara still clung to the dream of getting their own place. That dream was a long shot. Several years earlier, Carlos’s Social Security number was stolen and used to run up credit card debt. More recently, Sara, who worked at a local bed and breakfast, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It didn’t look like they would qualify for a bank loan.
Luckily, the young couple discovered the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s Welcome Home Loans, which are designed for people whose modest incomes, credit histories, or location in a manufactured-home community (sometimes called mobile homes) may disqualify them for traditional mortgage loans. Just three months after their first phone call, they were in a brand-new manufactured home of their own.
Carlos and Sara were grateful that the Community Loan Fund gave them a chance at home ownership when others wouldn’t. The Community Loan Fund was happy to help—and had the financing to do so because of a $5.5-million award from the Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance, which it won to expand this innovative financing program.
“Winning the NEXT Award helped raise awareness of predatory lending practices, and helped hundreds of homeowners in New Hampshire avoid or escape them,” said Community Loan Fund CEO Juliana Eades. “The $5.5 million award allowed us to provide more mortgage loans for people living in co-ops, like Carlos and Sara, as well as to expand the program to homeowners on their own land.”