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Chasing the American Dream: Home shoppers of color in Greater Boston recount their experiences

Buying News
Niva-Cruz-Family
Niva Cruz posed for a holiday photo with her children outside their new home. Clockwise from top left: Niva Cruz; her daughter, Niasya Montas; and her sons, Angel Lebron (right) and Nizayah Montas.

NIVA CRUZ

A “single and hardworking mom to three teenagers’’

Race Hispanic

Status Homeowner

“After three months into my search, I decided to look in the outskirts of Boston. In April, I finally found the home I wanted to start new memories in. My offer was accepted, and I was able to close on June 2, 2020.’’

Experience Took a home-buying course through the Urban Edge [community development organization] and spent three years saving money and rebuilding her credit. Was “shocked’’ to learn of all of the resources available.

“Due to my budget and needs, I had to be open to buying outside of the Boston area, which was very difficult for my children because they had lived in Boston their entire lives and it’s also were I work. The Boston market was also very competitive for me, and I was often out won by real estate investors.’’

(Find out what buyers of color need to close the homeownership gap.)

Sonia-Solas

SONIA SOLAS

A formerly homeless single mother of two children ages 6 and 9 who is in a master’s degree program studying mental health and is program director at the Romper Room child-care center in the South End

Race Puerto Rican

Status Has been looking for a home for a year, but started the process three years ago by taking first-time home-buyer education and landlord courses, fixing her credit, and saving for a down payment.

“My goal is to build financial stability by owning a multifamily home and completing my degree.’’

Experience Has faced obstacles because of her school loans and credit score and has had to put a hold on her dream because of a break in employment during COVID-19. Says her search could not have been any easier because her realtor was very informed and attentive.

“I would like to make sure that when it comes my time to leave this world my children have a place to always call home.’’

Yleis-Engerman

YLEIS ENGERMAN

33, owns a mental health practice in Brockton

Race Black

Status Has been trying to buy a home for nearly three years.

“My first realtor and lender duo led me along for a while before the lender said, ‘Your student loans are too high, there’s nothing I can do.’’’

Experience I was then introduced to Linda Champion. … Linda took my world by storm and immediately starting working on finding me a house. [But] these past months have been the most stressful ever. I signed a purchase-and-sale on a two-family home in Brockton, later to find out, after going through multiple lenders, that my student loan debt was in fact too high … the loan was denied. With huge hesitance and a huge feeling of defeat, I reluctantly continued on the journey.

“I work a lot, and wasn’t able to attend multiple open houses due to work, or the open houses were all on the same day at the same time. Also … student loan debt was crippling to me, and I am sure to others.’’

Engerman recently found a home in her price range and secured a suitable loan.

“So fingers crossed, all goes well.’’

Nicole-Echemendia

NICOLE ECHEMENDIA

37, a mother of two boys, ages 4 and 11, with a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in management from Cambridge College. She has worked as an account manager at Meditech for 15 years. “I love my community and volunteer when I can. I’m a proud resident of Mattapan and have been most my life.’’

Race Black

Status Still searching, but has been approved for the ONE+Boston program, which offers low fixed interest rates and down payment and closing cost assistance.

“The housing that fell in my price range needed a lot of work, and the demand for housing in my range is high.’’

Experience High demand for affordable housing and COVID-19 have contributed to long waits to view homes and bidding wars.

“The biggest obstacle is the housing prices in Boston. Even with the assistance from the city and my savings, most houses were out of my price range.’’

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