Way Finders Shows Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity Partner Families the Way Home Through Education
Written by: Brandice J. O'Brien/Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity
Buying and maintaining a home is a significant undertaking, one that can overwhelm the most experienced homebuyers. When new partner families are accepted into Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s (GSHFH) homeownership program, they are required to take several classes to ensure they understand the process and how their finances can impact their success. GSHFH relies on partner organization Way Finders to facilitate this process.
Way Finders is a Western Massachusetts’ agency that strives to eliminate homelessness through classes and resources that focus on housing, real estate, employment support, and community services. For more than 10 years, the Homeownership Department has partnered with GSHFH. Partner families take the First-time Homebuyer Workshop, which covers all aspects of purchasing and owning a home. Upon successful completion, they earn a homeownership certificate. Participants can also participate in individualized counseling and once they’re in the house, they can take a Post-purchase Workshop and/or receive foreclosure prevention counseling.
“It’s rewarding to work with GSHFH and assist families who have faced economic and social barriers to homeownership, and see them acquire keys to a home of their own,” said Araceli Rivera, Way Finders Homeownership and Financial Education manager. “We share a vision of safe, decent, and affordable homes for everyone, and we value our partnership in making that happen.” Way Finders is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency and counselors are HUD certified. Araceli said in 2020, 249 graduates of the
First-time Homebuyer Workshop purchased a house.
“Having community partnerships with local nonprofits that support our mission of affordable homeownership and recognize the importance of financial literacy is a benefit to all,” said Aimee Giroux, GSHFH executive director. “Working with Way Finders helps us to provide our partner families with tools and resources to achieve their dream of homeownership. Together we can accomplish so much more.”
In addition to the required classes, partner families can also participate in “Credit Success,” a financial education program that teaches individuals how to prepare for homeownership by improving their credit, paying off debts, and/or saving for a down payment. The course isn’t limited to buying a house, but extends to saving for a car, school tuition, or putting money aside for an incase- of emergency fund.
Additionally, Way Finders has offered a safe haven for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has provided government assistance to homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages.