The vast amount of jargon and technical terms that exist in the context of affordable housing can be truly mind-boggling. I have finally faced the fact that I will never remember the exact definition of a foreclosure rate or memorize what the initials of AMI stand for (Area Median Income, by the way). I have been serving as MANNA’s AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer since September and previously had no experience in affordable housing. As a result, a lot of my time here has consisted of efforts to remember the meaning of all of these confusing phrases I am constantly hearing in meetings and seeing in emails.
Despite my lack of understanding regarding the jargon that serves as a barrier surrounding the issues at the core of affordable housing, I have found a way of grasping these issues without focusing on the technical terms I am not yet familiar with. These issues are better understood and truly embodied in context of the personal stories of the clients who have bought homes through MANNA and participated in our Homebuyers Club. Everyone that has walked through the doors of this organization has their own unique story and struggle. I have yet to read or hear a story from one of our clients that does not leave me moved in admiration and better informed in my work here at MANNA.
From the story of how Akua Danqua bought her house, I gained a comprehension of the importance of financial stability before purchasing a home. I truly admire Danqua’s perseverance during the years she spent saving and improving her credit score before she decided to purchase. All the same with Abby Vineyard’s journey to homeownership, whose determination helped me understand the comfort and relief of having a place to call home after years of horrible renting experiences. Each story of a MANNA homeowner on their path to homeownership speaks volumes of their bravery and strength.
There is no question that the jargon and technical terms are important to the work that MANNA does. However, until I maintain an understanding of ADU (Affordable Dwelling Unit) and HPAP (Housing Purchase Assistance Program) loans, I will continue to focus on the stories of homeownership that give meaning to MANNA. Furthermore, I encourage anyone else that finds housing jargon leaves them losing sight of the heart of affordable housing efforts, to take the time to look into some of our homeowners’ stories and relate them to your own thoughts associated with home and homeownership.
Ruth Bordett is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at MANNA.