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  • Monday, October 10, 2022 12:26 PM | Anonymous

    "My husband and I are well on our way to purchasing our first home. Thank you so much for not only educating us on the importance of having good credit but also directing us in the pathway of credit repair. I am happy to say that we both have paid off a significant amount of creditors and we have already seen increases in both our credit scores. The home buyers’ class was very informative, and we are working with a lender and have just recently begun working with a realtor. We appreciate all that you have done to help us, and we will keep in touch with our progress."

  • Monday, October 10, 2022 12:23 PM | Anonymous

    "I would like to just give a huge THANK YOU to Luisa Scotland with the REACH housing program and Detra Smith. They helped me to accomplish buying a house in the neighborhood that I grew up in South Tampa.

    With the cost of housing skyrocketing, never in my wildest dreams could I believe that I would be able to purchase a home in the place that I loved. We thought that we would have to move away from the area that means so much to me and we would be renters until we died

    I just want to thank the ladies for their kindness, for dealing with my insecurities when I thought it wouldn't happen, and for their patience with me. They were both a pleasure to work with and allowed me to "Dare to Own the Dream" of homeownership. We were so happy when we closed that we painted the entire house and made it our own. After all, it is our home now! Thank you again ladies and thank you for having a program that allows people to become homeowners in our beautiful city.

    With much appreciation,


  • Sunday, October 09, 2022 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    "This correspondence is to express my highest praise and gratitude to Mr. Garry BellFleur. In 2020, it occurred to me that I moved twice in three years and I should consider the benefits of homeownership. I contacted several agencies and Mr. BellFleur responded immediately.

    Mr. BellFleur was not the closest to me but his professionalism, responsiveness, friendliness, and patience made him the right choice. Mr. BellFleur sat with me for one-on-one counseling and was thoroughly familiar with the housing process. Mr. BellFleur drew pictures and counted with me so that I could understand.

    I did not hand-sign a required document and Mr. BellFleur drove across town to expedite it for me. This occurred during the pandemic where Mr. BellFleur observed all social distancing protocols but I never expected the effort.

    First-time homeownership is challenging and, quite frankly, I can see why it is not for everybody. The economy seemed to be a moving target and at one time I resolved that homeownership was not possible. I dropped the ball and Mr. BellFleur contacted me after not hearing from me for weeks. He. Contacted. Me.

    Mr. BellFleur listened to my concerns and was more than a R.E.A.C.H agent but a coach, expert, and advocate for those seeking his help. At one point he was more confident than I was and did not let me give up. He told me to be patient and I would see the results.

    My fiance and I signed for our house on 6/30/2021 and would like to thank Mr. BellFleur for his vital role. Those associated with Mr. BellFleur were solid and professional like Mr. BellFleur himself. It is my observation that Mr. BellFleur is well known and respected by his peers who spoke highly of him.

    I was displaced in a fire in April 2021 which caused my third relocation in now four years. The thought of homeownership was even farther away but it was exactly when we were blessed with a new home.

    Thanks to Mr. BellFleur, my fiance and I can manfully say that we went through the full homeowner process and the patience and sacrifice were worth it.

    Mr. BellFleur is the pinnacle of justice and professionalism in the community. Housing scams are rampant in South Florida where predators often operate on one's confidence, intuition, and judgment which is why it is so draining.

    Renters often have to "move easy" to avoid disquieting a landlord or face an inevitable yearly rent increase or policy change. Soon I will relocate for a fourth and final time to my own home!

    I finally have the peace that comes with owning one's own home and there is no other person I would trust in this process other than Mr. Garry BellFleur. His valuable insight was tremendous. Mr. BellFleur is solid and I will surely refer to him in the future.

    It is with the highest regard I provide this note of praise to Mr. Garry BellFleur. Thanks, Garry and the R.E.A.C.H program for your obviously high standards!"

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2022 3:09 PM | Anonymous

    "We are extremely happy that we were able to purchase our first property through the excellent counseling services of Jacqueline Villanueva at REACH. Not only did we purchase our home but we received down payment assistance that tremendously helped us since we do not have enough savings to accomplish this purchase."

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2022 3:07 PM | Anonymous

    Satisfied Customer

    "I heard about the Homeownership Assistance Program but I didn't feel confident that I could complete the application on my own. Thankfully Rosa was able to help me complete the application and prepare all of the documents being requested. Because of her I was able to have all of my missed payments covered by the program, plus 8 months of future payments. Without her help I may have lost my home. I can't thank her enough for all of the help she gave me."

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2022 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    A couple successfully keeps their home

    A married couple, who were both employed full time, came very close to losing their home. He was employed with the Clay County Clerk of Courts and she at a daycare center. The husband became seriously ill with COVID, was hospitalized and put on a respirator. When he was able to go home with an oxygen tank, his wife needed to miss work so that she could stay at home and care for him. As a result, she lost her job at the daycare center. Working with housing counselors from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA), the couple was able to get support from the Homeownership Assistance Program which provided them with 18 months of mortgage payments. While the man's health has improved to the point that his wife was able to go back to work, he is still using an oxygen tank and not able to return to work yet. It is hoped that at some point he will be ready to return to light duty employment when his oxygen levels permit. JALA staff will continue to work with this couple, exploring re-financing sources to hopefully ensure that they will be able to retain their home.

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2022 2:53 PM | Anonymous

    A client's attempts to keep his home

    Client came to us past due on his mortgage. His hours of work were reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his reduced income was not enough to cover payments. He was able to secure a pandemic forbearance but, when that was about to expire, he still had insufficient income to cover his mortgage payments. Client completed the Housing Stability Counseling Program and we assisted him to complete his application for the HAF program. He was approved for HAF assistance and the client’s mortgage was completely reinstated. He was also granted several months of future mortgage payments. Client is currently working on savings and finding a source of extra income to allow him to move forward after the HAF future payments are over.

  • Tuesday, March 29, 2022 2:53 PM | Anonymous

    Mr. and Mrs. Yanez

    are elderly clients who came to their first counseling session in 2019 after attending a Solita’s House “First Time Homebuyer” class in Spanish. The clients had recently arrived in the United States from Cuba and wanted to achieve the American Dream of owning their own home.

    The clients had no credit record are all and a very modest household income. Nevertheless, they did not give up on their homeownership goal and were assisted by developing their credit using Solita’s House’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and a Credit Builder Loan that was coupled with an Individual Development Account Program.

    The clients made their payments on time and were able to create a credit record which then resulted in a successful credit card application with their credit union.

    Mr. and Mrs. Yanez also applied successfully for the City’s Dare to Own the Dream Program but because of their low income, were not able to find a house to buy.

    They did receive a substantial amount of money from the CDFI’s IDA Program which came in handy when they faced some health issues.

    The clients stayed in communication with this counselor and also with Solita’s House employee Lourdes del Rio who informed the clients about a rental housing opportunity with the Renaissance Program which came at an opportune time as their rent was about to be increased substantially with an amount unattainable for the clients’ budget.

    The clients were assisted in applying for the Renaissance Program and were soon accepted and were able to move in paying an amount of rent that is much lower than what they were previously paying.

  • Friday, March 25, 2022 2:37 PM | Anonymous

    Mr. Jones

    attended his first pre-purchase counseling session in April. The client is a single father with 2 small daughters who wanted to be in a position to qualify for a mortgage loan that he could afford and possibly be able to get any guidance in order to achieve his goal. Mr. Jones’ modest income dictated that he would need any financial assistance he could get.

    The client had good credit scores to start with but was counseled to lower the credit utilization and credit card balances in order to also help his ratios. He followed instructions closely and soon his credit scores soared averaging well over the 700 mark.

    He was also assisted with following a developed budget that allowed him to meet his family’s financial obligations, but also to add to his savings which he understood to be critical in the home buying process and as a homeowner.

    The client was also assisted in applying to the City’s Dare to Own the Dream Program and was successful in securing that down payment and closing assistance. Still, he and his realtor Marisol

    Coll had trouble finding a house that met his family’s needs until the opportunity to apply for a Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay was presented. The client was encouraged to apply for this program and was subsequently accepted resulting in achieving his goal of buying a brand new house for his family.

    The client also selected Solita’s House as his lender as he felt comfortable with this agency because of the counseling he received. The result was that this client was able to buy a brand new home using only $3,000.00 from his own savings which left a savings cushion of several thousand dollars. He also received $30,000.00 from the City’s Dare to Own the Dream Program plus an additional $86,480.00 from Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay. This client’s monthly mortgage payment will be $851.60 which amounts to $388.40 less than what he was previously paying for rent

  • Friday, March 25, 2022 2:37 PM | Anonymous

    Ms. Welch

    first came to pre-purchase counseling after attending a Solita’s House First-Time Homebuyer Class in the fall of 2020 after first having dealt with a counselor no longer with the agency. The client had a goal of qualifying for down payment and closing assistance to buy the house she was presently living in that previously belonged to her late dad.

    Ms. Welch had a significant barrier to overcome as her modest income had not allowed for the necessary savings needed to help with the purchase of a home. She was promptly identified as a good candidate to apply for the City’s Dare to Own the Dream Program and was assisted in applying for this needed assistance.

    Since the property is located in the East Tampa footprint, she was also encouraged to apply for the ET CRA program which she did. The client also had modest credit scores and was counseled on proper ways to improve her scores. Also, a strict budget was agreed upon between the client and the counselor and she was provided with the necessary tools to follow a successful budget based on “needs vs. wants” and with the goal of adding to her savings.

    The client followed the instructions properly and her credit scores improved greatly and are presently averaging in the 700 level. She also managed to save over $2,000.00.

    Eventually, she was approved for "Dare to Own the Dream" (DARE) and ET CRA and is now scheduled to close on her home on December 9th benefiting from both down payment assistance programs. As a result, she will now pay around $550 a month for her mortgage which is obviously less than the $600 a month she was previously paying for rent at the very same property.

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