The AHA’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all NJ residents by developing and preserving affordable housing, providing services to maintain housing affordability, providing housing education, and helping communities meet their legal and moral housing obligations. With every individual and family that finds affordable housing, we get one step closer to building a New Jersey where everyone has a place they can call home. These are your stories:

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Connie Saves Her Home & Gets a New Lease on Life

Connie had almost given up on all hope after two years of struggling to make ends meet and was in the process of selling her home via Short Sale when she first contacted the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA). She fell behind on her mortgage with Wells Fargo after she experienced medical issues which limited her ability to work and earn a living. Connie exhausted her savings due to medical bills and attempting to remain current on the mortgage. Connie had resolved that she would be losing her home and would have to find a rental for herself and pet. She knew that credit issues and having a pet would make finding a rental less expensive than her mortgage was almost impossible. Connie reached out to the AHA as a last-ditch effort to save her home. She listened to our advice and submitted all the needed paperwork immediately. The request for a modification was submitted and it was approved by Wells Fargo within 30 days. Though the capitalized amount of arrears was up to $21,162, Wells Fargo was able to offer Connie a payment that increased from her original payment by only $65 per month. Connie has since advised that she has completed the trial payments, has a permanent modification and is very happy to be home. Additionally, her health has improved from her medical treatments that caused this hardship.

Samantha Credits Controlling Her Credit With Turning Things Around

Samantha contacted the Affordable Housing Alliance for guidance to purchase a home with her Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. However, her credit score was too low to acquire lender financing. During her coaching session, the Coach reviewed Samantha’s credit report with her and showed her each collection, charge off record, and account that was closed but still unpaid, which needed to be addressed promptly to have the greatest impact on her score. She was diligent to implement the Coach’s advice and made sure those issues were resolved. Samantha and her Financial Coach also reviewed some of her bills that can be lowered such as her cable and phone bill which were very high. She was able to get both those bills lowered in time with a new phone plan and a less expensive cable provider. Samantha also was able to start saving and putting money away for emergencies. While working with her Coach, she faced a sudden challenge when she stop receiving child support. She was so committed to meeting her goals that she still was still able to put money away. After many months of hard work, she was able to increase her score above 640, which is sufficient to obtain lender financing and make some budgeting changes to save over $1,000 for emergencies. She completed the AHA’s Money Management course made free to participants by the United Way of Monmouth & Ocean Counties. The course helped Samantha understand more about credit, budgeting, and saving. Samantha was referred to homebuyer counseling to continue working toward her goal of becoming a homeowner. It was clear that the guidance and accessibility to a Financial Coach helped Samantha reach her goal.

John Saves Generational Family Home

John reached out to the Affordable Housing Alliance for assistance when he received notice his lender would be moving forward to foreclose due to him falling 7 months behind on his mortgage. He fell behind because his wife had temporarily fallen ill, shifting the full burden of both earning income and child care on him. John told his counselor he wanted to do everything to save his home because it had been in his family for three generations, and he did not want to have to make his young children change schools. Though he was self-employed, he had not had much experience in tracking his income through a Profit & Loss outside of income tax season. The counselor assisted John in reviewing his business income & expenses to create a Profit & Loss for his loan modification application. John was approved for a permanent modification and has been able to keep up with his new payments.

Sharon Overcomes Obstacles to Purchase Affordable Housing

Sharon is a young single woman who was looking to start her adult life on the right foot financially by purchasing a home and paying into equity she could someday utilize. She contacted the Affordable Housing Alliance for assistance in purchasing an Affordable, Deed-Restricted unit, enrolling in Housing Counseling and Homebuyer Education. She planned on utilizing a $10,000 Down Payment Assistance grant and already had a home in mind to purchase. She obtained a pre-approval from her lender, however, the lender became unresponsive and her Mortgage Application sat with no activity for two months. The counselor assisted Sharon in reaching out to the lender to determine the cause of the inactivity and found that the lender had been negligent in processing both her Mortgage Application and her Down Payment Assistance application. The counselor helped advocate for the client with the seller so that she would not lose the opportunity to purchase her dream home after delays outside of her control. The counselor provided the client with other lender loan products, including some with a low down payment and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) required. The client selected a lender with a product with no PMI and the new lender gave her a Pre-Approval that same day. Unfortunately due to the negligence of the first lender, the client could not obtain the Down Payment Assistance program within the remaining timeframe to purchase her home. The new lender, however, gave the client a $1,500 closing credit to assist in reducing the amount she would have to bring to closing. Through the teamwork of the housing counselor, lender, and seller, the client was able to secure her purchase rather than having to start her home search from scratch.

Struggling Urban Life to Rural Livelihood

Jack and Isabella contacted the Affordable Housing Alliance for guidance to purchase a home in a rural area of New Jersey. Though they earned less than 80% Area Median Income, they had been working diligently to save up to be able to pay more than 20% of the home purchase up-front. The family planned on starting a farm and raising chickens which would provide an additional income source. Isabella did not speak English very well but she excelled in farm work, so she was excited to be able to contribute to the financial earnings of her family. The counselor discussed with them the option of buying down points so that their monthly mortgage payment would be even lower than expected. They all reviewed how to read amortization charts so that the clients could decide how many points they would buy down. After putting 30% down on their home purchase, Jack and Isabella’s total PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance) housing expense is now $534. The family is now able to use more of their income toward setting up their farm and agricultural business.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Debra has been working in the AHA and the Financial Success Center since 2020 and initially experienced many unfortunate personal situations which made it difficult for her to improve her finances. Though she was not ready to proceed, the Coach checked in with her every couple of months until she was ready. Initially, she wanted to create a monthly budget, improve her credit and purchase a home. The Coach taught her how to use a cash flow financial tool to create her budget. Cash flow is a budgeting method to assist clients in realizing their expenses on how to work on spending their money wisely. At first, Debra had credit issues such as collections and disputes that resulted in her credit file being frozen. The coach referred her to Financial Success Center partner, Navicore Solutions, for more hands-on assistance in addressing potential settlements that needed to be arranged with her creditors. She was able to resolve many of the issues with the Coach’s guidance on how to work out settlements and repayment plans with her derogatory trade lines. Her credit score increased and she was able to budget and save over $1,000 dollars in emergency funds. This success story shows that the determination and commitment of a Coach to help shows the participant they truly have someone on their side and can make some changes to improve their financial security and independence.

Home Buyer Counseling

Carlos Gonzalez & his wife, Minerva, were renting a 2 bedroom garden apartment in PA and paying $1,056 in monthly rent. Parents of two young children under the age of 5, dreamed of owning their first home with a small yard. Through budgeting and cutting expenses they were able to save $16,000 to use to purchase a home. Carlos worked full-time earning $61,413 per year and Minerva worked part-time for Amazon/ The family was able to successfully purchase their first home in Hamilton (Mercer County) for $275,000 and closed on December 10, 2021. They provided their Mortgage Loan Commitment which listed a Fixed Interest rate of 2.875% with Bank of America. Mr. & Mrs. Gonzalez are now proud homeowners!

Young Couple Gets Their Start

Adam and his partner Brian came to the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) to assist them in overcoming some of their credit obstacles to obtaining a mortgage pre-approval to buy a home. The couple had been paying $400 toward their housing expense while living with family and saving up for their home purchase. They had previously been denied for a pre-approval and wanted to learn what they could do to improve their chances. Due to their young age, Adam had a short but brief good credit history and Brian had a very limited credit history. Upon review of their financials, the counselor realized one of the main issues was that Adam had co-signed on a loan for a family member. The loan was in good standing but was increasing Adam’s debt load. The counselor worked with Adam to obtain documentation from the relative that they were paying the loan on their own so that the lender could deduce that liability from his debt ratio calculations. They were pre-approved and purchased a low-cost home with the help of down payment assistance and closing cost assistance. Their new housing expense was only $650 which will enable them to continue to save and move forward in their lives together with financial security.

Family Overcomes Hardship Over Hardship

Kevin and Sarah came to the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) to assist them in preventing foreclosure. They learned about our services through a list of local housing counseling agencies that was sent to them along with their Foreclosure Complaint and Summons. Having two small children, they wanted to do everything they can to preserve their family’s home. They had accepted a modification from their lender the year prior due to a prior hardship, however, after a year of making timely payments his wife was injured and out of work for four months. Because of the hardship of the months, they were delinquent but did not yet learn of our services, their arrearages amounted to $23,000. The housing counselor assisted the homeowners in applying for a modification to their new hardship. They were offered a trial modification which increased their monthly payment by only about $50 per month. They were able to complete the trial and move forward in their family home, having healed from the physical injury of Sarah’s accident and the emotional stress of the risk of foreclosure.

Comfort in Old Age

Walter came to the Affordable Housing Alliance for guidance on how to obtain a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage product. He was in the early stages of dementia and wanted a reverse mortgage so he could utilize his equity for in-home care as his illness advances. He had to work with the counselor diligently to coordinate a deal with his mortgage broker because he was far behind in his taxes which affects HECM eligibility. Eventually, they reached an agreement and Walter is now able to age in place instead of moving to a group residential care facility.