Luis and Jennifer came to Independence and Hawthorne Place in February 2018 after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home in Puerto Rico. They had nothing, except their two kids and each other. CSL, in partnership with the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the owner-operator of Hawthorne Place, were part of a national effort to house Puerto Ricans stateside.
Hawthorne Place is one the largest federally subsidized communities in the country with more than 2,400 people living in 750 apartments and townhomes. In 2017, CSL began offering a wide array of services at Hawthorne Place that help low-income families remain stably housed and find a pathway out of poverty. Luis began working right away, but his car broke down and he lost his job. CSL connected Luis to a local church that helped him get a new car so that he was able to find a new job and support his family.
Because Luis and Jennifer set the goal of homeownership, one of the programs that they took advantage of was the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FSS, administered at Hawthorne Place by CSL, is an innovative wealth- and asset-building program where families can escrow earned income into a savings fund. They can use their savings to put a down payment on a home, for credit repair, or to continue their education. Luis and Jennifer began saving for a home immediatley.
Luis and Jennifer saved $10,025 through the FSS program and achieved their goal of homeownership in late 2020, moving into a home in Independence - just two and a half years after they moved into Hawthorne Place. Luis has been at the same job for three years, and they still drive the car that the church gave them.
Originally written & published by Community Services League, a POAH partner
Hear more from Luis and Jennifer talk more about their experience.