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January 31, 2022

That first-time homebuyer glow? “Every day is a celebration because you wake up to what’s yours!” 

David Rios and his wife Jacqueline graciously caught up with Way Finders shortly after they closed on their first home: a 1909 four-bedroom house in Springfield. On this particular hot summer day, their air conditioner was acting up. So we gathered in the shade of the garage, where David had set up a fan, and cracked open iced cold cans of Coke (thank you, Jacqueline!).  

Their story is one of taking setbacks and challenges in stride—and working hard to push forward. 

“We’re a family of six,” says David. “Kiara is 21, Jada is 14, Valerie Anne is 13, and Iris Edith is 10.” 

David, a native of Connecticut, is not currently working due to a disability. When he and his family first moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts in 2010, they started off in a shelter. Later that year, they moved to an apartment on Main Street in Springfield.  

“In 2013, there was a fire,” David says. “We lost everything.” 

Rebuilding took time. In 2014 Jacqueline began her current job, as a cook at Wendy’s in Palmer. Most recently, they were paying full market rent for a three-bedroom apartment in Springfield, to the tune of $1,500 a month. 

Fast forward to July 30, 2021: the day David and Jacqueline closed on their new home. Their eldest daughter, who is living with schizophrenia, is also on the deed. 

“I feel good about the house,” says Jacqueline. 

“Every day is a celebration because you wake up to what’s yours!” says David. “You have nobody to bother you, nobody to tell you what to do. Nobody living upstairs banging on the floor and stuff like that. You have freedom, definitely.” 

Financially, there is freedom, too—they are paying $200 less than when they rented.  

David is the second person in his family to purchase a home, an achievement his mother is especially proud of. “My brother got his house when he was younger,” says David. “I guess I waited a little, but I just wanted to make sure I was stable and mentally able to attack this big project.” 

Their goal of homeownership was several years in the making, starting with a credit course David took that inspired them to spend less, save more. 

“We’ve been working toward buying a home for almost three years,” David says. “Buying a home is a very good investment! Why keep paying rent and making somebody else wealthier? If you pay yourself, something will be yours at the end of 15, 20, 30 years.” 

They put offers on more than 10 homes before one was accepted. The final stretch of their journey was accomplished in a blur—expedited by the experts at Way Finders, including Senior Homeownership Advisor Linda Morales. The effort paid off: Upon graduation from the Way Finders First-time Homebuyer Program, they qualified to receive $6,000 toward the purchase of their home from the city of Springfield’s down payment assistance program. 

“My real estate agent gave me the contact information for Way Finders. I took the two First-time Homebuyer Program workshops online on July 17, then had a two-hour phone counselling session with Linda,” David says. “Way Finders worked pretty fast with me. They broke it down to a T. And I appreciate that Linda took her time. My timeframe was not that big, but she welcomed me with open arms. The whole team helped me out! Emails, phone calls, texts.” 

One of the most important things he learned: Get a home inspection with a reputable home inspector. 

“When COVID hit, everybody started waiving home inspections,” says David. “But you need to know if you’ve got major problems with electricity, or the foundation is cracked and stuff like that.” 

In working with Linda, she helped him focus on his budget: “Always, always have a budget. Break down your income and make sure you budget yourself monthly, weekly, whatever you can do,” says David.  

Being responsible with money is something they want to instill in their children, too—and what inspired them to include Kiara on the deed.  

“I tell her she should be proud of herself, to keep her head up. We’re showing her how to pay bills and that your credit score is always important,” says David. “Because when you’re young, you don’t think about it, you grab this, you grab that. But if you don’t pay for those things, you won’t succeed in life.” 

Today, the Rios family is proud to have a spot to call home. Congratulations, David, Jacqueline, and Kiara!