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Meet Sixta, a proud first-time homebuyer and 2021 FSS program grad

The Way Finders Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program gives rise each year to many momentous accomplishments among its participants. One such point of pride belongs to Sixta Solivan, a 2021 FSS Program graduate.

“The last thing that Sonia told me, I remember she said, ‘Sixta, you are the first person in our FSS program to buy a condo!’ It made me feel great,” recalls Sixta, of a recent conversation with Program Specialist Sonia Colon. “I feel different since I moved here. A good different.”

Sixta, who had rented her entire life, joined the FSS Program in 2015 after receiving a letter about it from Way Finders. She knew that given some big changes in her life—a recent marriage, plans to return to the workforce after a hiatus spent caring for her mother—her income would soon be going up.

“And when your income goes up, then you’re going to start paying your full rent,” Sixta says, regarding the income limits tied to a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. “So I said, ‘Well, let’s give the voucher to another person who needs it. Because that’s how it works.’ I knew that was going to happen. When they sent me that letter, I said, ‘This is it! I have to get into this program as fast as I can.’”

Sixta, a mother of two grown sons, knew the program’s mission is to help participants—those receiving a voucher—to move toward economic stability. It combines mentorship with training, all through the lens of reaching bespoke goals within a 5-year timespan.

One key part of the program—and the reason for Sixta’s sense of urgency? As a participant’s income and share of rent increase, an escrow account is established. Upon successful completion of the program, participants may use the funds toward furthering their education or purchasing a home, for example.

Or, in Sixta’s case, a condo. She and her husband closed on their new home at the end of April 2021. They put down $10,000—$5,000 from her escrow account and $5,000 from the completion of the FSS First-time Homebuyer Program.

“It’s very, very quiet,” Sixta says, in response to what she loves about her new place. “And it has a pool, a gym, a tennis court. People are friendly, you know. When I came the first time, neighbors came to tell me, ‘Welcome, welcome. You’re going to like it here.’ I felt welcomed here.”

Sixta, who works as a CNA at an assisted living facility in Chicopee, knew that getting a job was the key to being able to meet her goal of owning property someday.

“Sonia helped me to do my resume and she helped me to apply on the internet,” says Sixta, of her job search. “It was a good thing, having the help, because I didn’t know a lot about the internet. Sonia helped me get the right job for me.”

With her good credit and a fulltime job, Sixta was ready for the next step toward homeownership: the First-time Homebuyer Program. She chose to take the Framework online course, which is a self-paced set of 7 modules on various topics. At first, she wasn’t sure about her decision (“They are long classes!”). But Sonia’s supervisor, Luz Rivera, was looking out for her.

“‘Tell Sixta that I can take some time and help her with the class,’” Sixta recalls, of the message Sonia relayed from Luz. “I felt motivated when she said those words. I said, ‘Well, let me do this then.’ I registered, took the class, and I passed! You need an 87 or up and I got an 87.”

Sixta took the classes herself, as her husband doesn’t speak English. But she found the material interesting and passed it on to him.

“I’d talk to him and say, ‘I learned this, I learned that. We have to do this, we have to do that,’” says Sixta.

This—and that—were all worth it for Sixta. She is especially pleased to have a place for her grandchildren to come and stay.

“We are all very happy for this condo, for this accomplishment,” says Sixta, who singles out the FSS Program staff as instrumental to her journey. “The people who work there, they know what they’re doing. They’re there to support you, to help you. You’re not waiting 2 or 3 months for somebody to answer you. They are on top of things. If you have a problem, they’re going to help you to fix it.”