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HPAP, EAHP, and Hard Work: Homeownership Success

To say that lifelong Washingtonian Erin Skinner has been busy the last few years is an understatement.

When the lease on her old apartment expired more than two years ago, she applied at a few other buildings in the area. But she quickly learned that, despite having a stable job as a DC government employee, she didn’t earn enough to even qualify in the buildings where she wanted to live. That realization led her to start looking for a home to buy instead, and she joined MANNA’s Homebuyers Club—on top of everything else in her life.

Skinner is a single parent to her two sons, ages 17 and 4. At the time, she was also hard at work on her undergraduate degree—all while never cutting back on her DC government job.

“I was in school full-time and working full-time. And looking for this house,” says Skinner.

After getting her credit score up with help from the Homebuyers Club, Skinner started looking for her new home. The search was possible thanks to DC’s Home Purchase Assistance Program, the District’s down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, and the Employer Assistance Housing Program, which Skinner was eligible for because she is a District employee.

But even with the incredible amount of work Skinner was putting in and funding sources all lined up, the process was a constant challenge.

Skinner had a house picked out that seemed perfect, and she was set to go to closing. But at the last minute she found that the regulations calculating her eligibility had been changed—her student loans now counted against her total debt.

The deal fell through. Skinner had to pass on her perfect house and start the whole process over again. With everything else in her life, it felt overwhelming.

But Skinner kept pushing, she says, in large part because of her love for DC. “I never wanted to leave DC. I was born and raised here.”

She recognizes that in many ways it’s a different city than the one she grew up in. “The city is changing so rapidly, all the new storefronts and condos. I’ve been wondering whether that would happen to where I live [in Southeast].”

People often ask why she doesn’t leave. “I want to stay here,” says Skinner. “I want to be able to benefit from everything that’s going on. All the changes are not bad… I want to benefit from the good changes that are going on in DC, and also to have my children benefit from those changes.”

Finally, Skinner’s dream has come together. This year, she says, “has been the year of me.” In May she graduated from college, and soon after she found a house that fits her family’s needs even better than the one before. And with the lift from HPAP and EAHP, her mortgage payments are far more manageable than renting.

What’s more, it meets her top goal: staying in DC. “Actually,” says Skinner, “where I live now is 10 minutes from where I’ve lived my entire life.”

She has some advice for others going through MANNA’s Homebuyers Club.

“To other prospective homebuyers, there are going to be days that you want to quit. There are going to be times when you see the house that you really, really want, and you find out that you can’t get it. Just know that if you keep going, you’ll find a house that’s even better than the one you thought you had to have.”

After seeing what hard work and HPAP can do, it’s hard to argue with her.

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