SMCAA Programs: Homebuyer Education

​I would like to take an opportunity to share my story that I believe many Americans will be able to empathize with. For myself Home Ownership always seemed out of my reach. For many years I was struggling to escape the "Rental Trap" moving from place to place paying thousands of dollars after many years and having nothing but memories to show for my efforts. As a high school honor student and a holder of an associate's degree I thought I had the necessary knowledge to be prepared to be successful in the world.

Unfortunately, I did not have the knowledge or education to prepare myself for the upcoming financial challenges or credit barriers necessary to position myself for home ownership. At the age of 38 I found myself exhausted from renting from landlord after landlord and decided to get serious about educating myself towards home ownership. I got serious about monitoring my credit and began to explore what programs may be available to help someone such as myself reach their dream.

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a loan originator from a local bank who gave me advice on my credit issues and talked about a program that may be able to help me get closer to Home Ownership. I began to explore online and I was eventually led to the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA). I learned that I could take classes to prepare me for home ownership and potentially receive down payment assistance to purchase my dream home.

I was once again blessed to have the opportunity to meet Kim who conducted the course I attended. She invited bank representatives and a realtor as guest speakers to discuss the challenges we were all facing. I believe some may neglect how challenging home ownership can actually be unless you are fortunate enough to be in an ideal situation. When faced with adversity, without the necessary education, making the decision that will lead us to our ultimate goal can seem impossible at times.

As I mentioned earlier I was 38 years old before I decided to change my financial path. I had personally felt that I had reached rock bottom. I found myself divorced, my credit score in the dumps, living with my parents and everything I owned fit into one laundry basket. With the support and assistance from Kim I have the keys in my hands for my dream home. In two years' time I have managed to achieve a lifelong dream that would not be possible without the help I received. Every day I give thanks for the blessings that I have received and the opportunities that I have had to endure. One day my story may actually help another. To give someone hope that when things seem impossible that it can still be a reality.

It is my hope that programs such as the one that has helped me continue to be offered to those truly in need of that extra nudge to get them on the correct path. That little guidance to show the light when goals seem so out of reach. The reward, I believe, is one worth the cost.

This client was asked if he would like to represent the consumer sector on SMCAA's Board of Directors to which he accepted. He has served on the Board since 2013.

“I feel everything was done that needed to be done. I had a person who cared and did everything possible. I had the best service.”


“[SMCAA staff member] has been wonderful in and throughout the weatherization process. She has been a pleasure to work with and her attitude is amazing.”


“Everything was great -- I liked how [SMCAA staff member] made sure to explain to me how SMCAA works.”


“Very happy with the help received. I appreciate proactiveness – [SMCAA staff member] called me a couple of times to advise on help available.”


“I am so impressed with the services I received. [SMCAA staff member] was so welcoming. I feel bad asking for help, so it is nice to not feel judged.”



A SMCAA staff member was working with a client in Van Buren County to assist her with her electric bill. During the application process, SMCAA noticed the client's Social Security was very low. The intake worker asked the client if she had ever applied for SSI as she was eligible. The client responded that no one had ever mentioned SSI to her.


A few weeks later the client called SMCAA to thank the staff member for the advice to apply for SSI. She is now receiving SSI and can pay her monthly rent expense without asking her daughter for help. The client said how much she appreciates SMCAA and all the help she gets, as she is also in the CSFP senior commodity program.