Tears of Fortune
The Journey, The Destination, The Future
There are still those of us who are quite fortunate - who live in extreme poverty, yet can be a homeowner. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how fortunate I am.”
Having the right Partners can make things possible
“Home to me means solitude, peace and quiet and peace of mind,” says Jude Demers, who bought his first home through the Champlain Housing Trust and thus fulfilled a lifelong dream.
Jude is an artist who writes poetry, sings and performs comedy, and was drawn to the Burlington area because of the opportunities for pursuing his passions. He volunteers at both the Flynn and with the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Vermont, for which he serves on the Board as a consumer council representative. Jude has also gone to Montpelier to advocate for affordable housing.
Jude receives disability income as a result of his neurocognitive disorder caused by two traumatic brain injuries as well as manic depression. He hopes that his story – going from homelessness to renting to owning his own home – can provide inspiration for other Section 8 tenants to know that homeownership is possible, affordable and feasible for them as well.
While living in a Champlain Housing Trust apartment in Burlington, Jude enjoyed the convenience of being in town and close to services, as well as the view of Lake Champlain. However, he wanted to put down roots but found that living on disability income limited his options.
He signed up for CHT’s Homebuyer Education class. After a number of applications and looking at possible homes in the area, he found the USDA Rural Development loan program and, at the same time, a house close to nature and within his price range.
“The numbers matched for the first time ever,” he says of the price and mortgage amounts, and “I couldn’t be luckier or happier with the home.”
He credits the many partners and organizations who worked together to make the “giant puzzle” fit together to help him find the right home.
“There are still those of us who are quite fortunate - who live in extreme poverty, yet can be a homeowner. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how fortunate I am.”
Jude celebrated his 40th birthday in July and takes pride in being able to open his doors to friends and family; they took a pontoon boat ride to see eagles, hawks and loons. He can still see Lake Champlain from his house, and frogs and rabbits visit the gardens.
Owning a home is very different from renting, he admits, and it’s been an educational experience. In the first two weeks of homeownership, he jokes that he cut the grass three times, a process that can take hours with the push mower. He has set his sights on a riding mower for the future.
“Yes, there’s much more responsibility, but I also think there’s more reward.”
He now has to consider things like homeowners insurance, but he’s also able to make decisions about whether to add another window to open up a space.
“It’s a sound investment,” he says, and he looks forward to paying down his mortgage – money that should eventually come back to him if and when he sells.
Jude explains that “homeownership feels like a birthday present … but I haven’t ever had a birthday like this one.”