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Veterans are struggling to become homeowners. A Charlotte non-profit is offering a unique path for them

Community Link wants to help those who served the country become homeowners on the homefront.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte non-profit is helping veterans realize the dream of homeownership through a program that is turning renters into homeowners.

Community Link’s rent-to-own model put Bonnie Tate and her husband Stephan, a veteran, on the right path to becoming property owners.

My home, I can come home and I can rest,” she said.

Tate said she is at peace knowing her family has a place to call home. But getting there was all a journey that had its challenges.

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You love a house, you get your hopes up and someone overbids, taking the house right from under you,” said Tate. “There were times when I wanted to give up,” she said.

The Tates turned to Community Link for support and participated in its asset-building program. Participants learn to budget, build credit, and financial responsibility.

We had to build up our finances and basically, it gave us something to strive for,” Tate explained.

Marsha Clark is the team lead for asset-building services and worked with the Tates and many families to put their finances back in order.

“Once we get the budget under control, then we can then focus on the credit,” said Clark. “The credit is the largest factor because mistakes you may have made in the past will come up in the mortgage underwriting process. For example, that credit card bill that went into collections or that large medical bill that was never paid.”

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Moving people from paying rent to paying a mortgage is a passion for Floyd Davis. He serves as the president and CEO of Community Link.

"People of color, for generations, have been renters and we want to help them become owners and let them realize that they too can build assets and build wealth,” he said.

Davis stresses the value of homeownership because it provides stability and is committed to providing families with affordable housing options.

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"If you own your home then you are in a 30-year fixed mortgage," he said. "Your payments do not increase. So you’re stabilizing your housing costs."

The Tates entered a lease-purchase agreement to purchase the home. Some of the rent paid went towards a down payment and closing costs to buy the house. The idea is that once enough money is accrued, the client becomes in a position to buy the house.

It took the Tates a year of paying rent before they were able to close on the house that is now theirs to own.

I was so relieved because I know that it is working for us,” said Tate. “I felt like we were on a better level owning a home.”

It's an asset she and her husband can one day pass down to their children.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.  


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