Putting Down Roots
Shared Equity Program helps build financial foundation
Andrea Solazzo loved living in Burlington’s Old North End. She enjoyed her job as gleaning coordinator at Vermont Foodbank and had lots friends in the area, and after 10 years of renting, she was ready to put down roots in her community. But she wasn’t sure what the steps were to buying a home, or how to start that process.
She wondered how she could afford to stay in the neighborhood she loved so much. “I knew I couldn’t afford to buy where I was living,” she said.
Andrea joined a friend and signed up for the Home Buyer Education program at Champlain Housing Trust. She learned how to navigate the steps and responsibilities of buying a home.
“I’m super risk adverse,” said Andrea, but when she saw a condo available in her neighborhood through CHT’s Shared Equity program, she was very interested.
“Being part of a condo association felt like less risk since I would not be solely responsible for big home repairs like a new roof. This was a good first step for me.”
The Shared Equity program provides down payment assistance to make homes affordable. Homeowners receive 25% of the home’s market appreciation when they sell and the rest is re-invested in the home for future home buyers, making the home permanently affordable.
“I loved the house. It had a private backyard, was right in Burlington, with a great layout and lots of natural light. It felt really secure, and really empowering as a woman in my 30s to buy my own house,” said Andrea.
Owning her own home made her more engaged in local issues. She became involved with organizations in the neighborhood and served on the Board of the Family Room which is located in the Old North End Community Center, just a few blocks from Andrea’s house.
Another benefit of buying through CHT was that she could save money. Knowing she wanted to start a family in a few years, the lower mortgage payments allowed Andrea to save money for child care. She said, “Buying a CHT home made that possible.”
Three and a half years after buying her home, a few things have changed. She’s married, has a new role as director of community engagement at the Foodbank and last April she and her husband Patrick welcomed baby Lucia. The money Andrea was able to save for child care is ready for Lucia now as Andrea transitions back to work from maternity leave.
And the most recent change? She and her family have sold their home and moved into a larger home in Burlington. “Being able to buy my home through CHT allowed me to put down deeper roots in this city I love. And seeing someone else get the same opportunity I had feels great to pay forward.”