A Foot in the Door
Homeownership Becomes a Reality Through the Shared Equity Program
It takes Tara Burke, a Champlain Housing Trust shared equity homeowner in Milton, a few moments to count up the number of apartments she’s rented around Burlington over the years.
“Let’s see, Pine Street, Hayward Street, St. Paul Street, Adams Street…”
After three years living in her last rental, a studio apartment located in a historic Victorian home near downtown Burlington, she’d finally had enough.
“It had been divided in to about 11 apartments and mine was only about 200 square feet. It was really a closet with a kitchen and a bathroom.”
If the size wasn’t enough of a problem, the condition of the studio certainly was. Like so many other aging rentals in Burlington, the unit was not well maintained by its owner.
Fortunately, Tara had a new plan. In her job as a closing coordinator at NorthCountry Federal Credit Union she had started to notice something.
“I was starting this job and seeing mortgage files where other single income people were buying homes through CHT and I realized if this person could do it, I can do it too.”
At that time, she knew she wasn’t in the financial position to purchase a home in the competitive local housing market. The cost of a down payment was simply too much, but as she learned more about Champlain Housing Trust’s Shared Equity Program, she realized homeownership could be a reality for her.
She took part in CHT’s first time homebuyer course and worked with the homeownership team to make a plan to improve her credit score and budgeted to save money for a down payment. She also took the Equity Builder Program through FHLD Boston. It took time, but eventually she built up the necessary funds to purchase her first home in Milton.
It did not take her long during a walkthrough to fall in love with the space. With a generously sized open living space, an extra bedroom for guests, and lots of greenery outside it was the perfect fit.
“I decorated quite a lot. I’m really proud of my accent wall in my living room. I really feel like I’ve made a nice space here.”
The living area allows her to entertain family when they visit. This November she hosted her family Thanksgiving dinner for the fourth time.
“Even if I were an architect of condos, I don’t think I could come up with a better layout.”
Tara does feel that at some point she’ll have to say goodbye to her beloved condo. She likes the idea of being closer to family near Boston. When she does, it will be a bittersweet moment.
“I don’t think I’m going to find a place in the Boston area that has these kind of perks. I practice gratitude every day for what I have. I look at my washer and dryer upstairs and I’m so thankful.”
While she won’t be a shared equity homeowner forever, Tara is thankful for the home she’s found through the program. A fact that she often shares with people in her life.
“I’m basically an advocate for CHT. My friends can’t get me to shut up about it and I never will. It’s giving me a foot in the door.”