CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Shay Myers spent three years working multiple jobs to overcome a lending system that disproportionately denies mortgages to Black applicants.
The Charlotte woman's hard work paid off this week when she closed on her first home.
"Sometimes it's like I still can't believe I actually did it," Myers said just moments after closing Monday. "I still can't believe this is mine and I own it and can't nobody take that away from me."
WCNC Charlotte first met Myers in February when a "Where's the Money?" investigation uncovered a systemic problem that limits Black homeownership. WCNC Charlotte's analysis of federal data revealed the largest lenders in the Charlotte-area deny Black applicants two to three times more often than their white counterparts.
Myers spends her few waking hours during the last few years holding down several jobs so that she can provide for her two kids, her deaf grandmother and wheelchair-bound mom. Myers said her mother, who once stood before a judge in eviction court, now has her own handicap-accessible bathroom.
"That can't happen to her ever again," Myers said. "Nobody's ever going to rip anything out from any of us."
It took a lot of patience and work to get here though. Her lender denied her first mortgage application three years ago.
"Hard to imagine that I actually got to this point," she said.
Lucy Jordan is Myers' realtor.
"I am elated. I am so proud of her because she listened to me," Jordan said. "She did everything she had to do."
Jordan connected Myers with home-buying classes, helped her clean up her credit and improve her debt-to-income ratio. Those two factors, both born out of socio-economic disadvantages, are the leading reasons lenders deny Black applicants.
"I know that the process is difficult, but it can be done," Jordan said. "She listened and this is the fruit of her labor. I'm ecstatic. I'm so proud of her. This is great for her and her family. This is a legacy."
Four generations are now free to live under a roof Myers owns.
"At 30 I did it," she said. "When I'm old, I want my kids and my grandkids to come here, like this is grandmom's house."
She hopes her success inspires her children.
"I did this for them and the ones that come after them. Hold on to your dream. Keep fighting for your dream," Myers said. "Yes, you might have to work hard. Yes, you have realities between Black and white. They can persevere through it. Hopefully, this world is changing enough for our kids to be greater than us. They might not have to work two or three jobs. I just hope that whatever mountaintop that I climb, they can climb thousands more."
The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on this topic just weeks ago. During that hearing, Rep. Alma Adams (D), NC-12 briefed committee members on WCNC Charlotte's findings and entered the story itself into the record.