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READ Marquetta's Story (that's her picture up there in the banner :-)

Written by Stacy Clardie

Marquetta doesn’t quite know how to put the experience into words.

When she was given the keys to her first home, when she used them to unlock the front door and walked in, she had the realization wash over her, This is mine.

Marquetta had grown up in a house and wanted badly to give her kids the same pleasure. But there were times when she wondered how she would make it happen.

Then, with an assist from the Faith Community Development Corporation, she walked into her home Feb. 3, 2018.

And got emotional.

“I was very happy,” she says. “I think my happiness is more for my kids because I knew they would be very happy. They would be proud of me. As parents, we don’t want to fail. We want to always be their superhero and (say) ‘I’ve got this.’ They were really happy. I was really happy, of course. You’re just speechless. ‘Is this really happening to me?’ It’s almost like winning the lotto. That’s how I felt, anyway. It was a really good blessing.”

After moving to Lafayette about eight years ago and then moving to 7th Street in 2013, Marquetta saw the neighborhood shift with the addition of the Hartford Hub. Her children, Admyer and Ja-mareon, immediately got involved at the Hub, and Marquetta soon learned of the housing program through the FCDC, the same organization that sponsored the development of the Hub.

So Marquetta started asking questions and took steps. She admits it was scary, not really knowing what to do in the process. But she had someone walking alongside her the entire way. She enrolled in a class, Faith and Finance, a prerequisite for the housing program. She met with a “coach” in the program who helped her fill out the HUD-required application, made sure she met the qualifications and strategized with her to reach the thresholds needed to purchase the home. That “coach,” Mary, was available to answer any questions. And Mary actually took Marquetta to the bank when she was ready to get the loan.

And Marquetta got denied.

“It was a real bummer,” she says. “I cried a little bit. Shed some tears. I was like, ‘I’m just going to give up. Whatever. I’m not going to worry about it.’ But Faith Church was very motivating to me. They kept saying, ‘Marquetta, look, it’s OK. Let’s just get this done, work through this, we’re here for you.’ They really pushed me a lot.”

Marquetta improved her credit score.

On Trip No. 2, she was approved. And soon after, she was sharing the news with her kids and was welcoming in two of her nieces, Iveonna and Towjae, to a three-bedroom home with a basement large enough to create a fourth room.

She’s been working to make it feel like home, gradually painting walls and allowing the kids to showcase their personalities in their rooms. She’s eager to fix up the yard this summer and invite a bunch of folks over for a barbeque.

Marquetta’s favorite room is the kitchen, not necessarily because she loves to cook but with four kids in the house she has to, and she appreciates the look and feel of the stainless steel refrigerator and stove. (Appreciates how loaded the house was with all new appliances, really, when she moved in.)

And if the kids didn’t think their mom was enough of a “superhero” after securing a house, she certainly got brownie points after allowing them to get a dog. They begged and begged. She didn’t want the added responsibility. But then she caved. They have a black lab-German Shepherd mix.

Already, that has produced plenty of moments of wide smiles, for Marquetta and her kids, as she’s enjoyed watching them playing with the puppy, racing around the house, up the stairs and down. They’re exactly the kind of memories she hoped the kids would build in a home.

“I let them enjoy and take it all in,” she says. “For me walking home, after a year, I’m putting the key in that door, and it still feels great, awesome, no better feeling.

“When they get older, take pictures, and it’ll be, ‘Hey, you guys remember?’ Those are the moments I think I want to live for. It’s a totally different experience than in an apartment.”

It’s an experience she’s sharing with her friends at work and beyond, to spread the word about the program, about its benefits and about how easy it was, with all the help the FCDC provided.

“I don’t plan on staying in Lafayette all my life. I do want to move on and create other experiences, meet different people, but this is a stepping stone. This home has really brightened up my eyes to new things,” Marquetta says. “You get discouraged and things happen, but don’t give up. Don’t be scared. Go for that. Because I was terrified, out of my mind. I had no parent to talk to and say, ‘Hey, how did that go for you?’ My mom passed when I was younger. Faith, without them, that would have been a very hard experience. But they are awesome people.”

Rick & Elaine on Being Homeowners

Rick & Elaine weren't happy renting - "We had to walk on pins and needles because you were always afraid of breaking something [and] you never new when you were going to be told that you had to move" - but they never thought they'd be able to own a home.

Elaine: "I love it! It still brings tears to my eyes. 'Cause it's hard to believe I have a house. It just really makes me feel good."

Jackie on Renting from the FCDC

"Housing before I moved here was pretty much - how can I put it? - unstable.

It's hard having to just up and move, and put stuff in storage and stay with friends. And it's like, this house is the longest lease I've had.

Living in your all's property has been convenient. It's been stable and overall it's been like one of the best benefits since I've been here."