Housing Authority program helped Pittsburgh woman buy first home
Danielle Fest is a public housing success story.
The 38-year-old single mother is a recovering drug addict. She’s lived in at least a half dozen places over the past 10 years and was homeless at one point. She relied on a federal Housing Choice Voucher Program known as Section 8 to help pay rent until 2017.
Then, a Section 8 counselor told her about the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh’s home ownership program, which provides subsidies to income eligible residents for home purchases. In June, Fest and her 11-year-old daughter Angelina moved into their new home in Pittsburgh’s Crafton Heights neighborhood.
“To have somebody who pretty much came from nothing to owning my own home is amazing,” Fest said Wednesday. “It’s been a rough road, but here I am. Anybody else out there who’s struggling should look into (the program).”
Since 2004, the housing authority has placed 183 first-time home owners in houses across the city. Twenty-one families, including Fest and her daughter, purchased homes through the program in 2018.
To be eligible a resident must have a full-time job for at least one year and can earn no more than 80 percent of the area mean income - $60,800 annually for a family of four. They must be pre-approved for a mortgage through a local lending institution and purchase a home within Pittsburgh city limits. They also have to complete a home ownership workshop and credit counseling.
“Purchasers have to have a mortgage from a local vendor. Then we can tell them how much they can get in subsidy,” said DeAnna Vaughn, the authority’s home ownership coordinator.
HACP offers up to $8000 for closing costs. Participants can also receive up to $52,000 as a deferred second mortgage. There are no monthly payments and the debt is forgiven if they live in the house for at least 10 years.
Fest, who works as operations manager for an event production company in Shaler, said a cousin helped her find a three bedroom brick house with a detached two car garage selling for $127,000.
She received almost $8,000 for closing costs and a deferred mortgage totaling $38,600, which reduced her bank loan to a little more than $88,000.
“As long as I stay here for 10 years, I’m good,” she said.
She was shopping for homes in the $100,000 to $150,000 price range and said her house was perfect. Her yard is fenced, which is great for her dog. Her daughter loves her spacious bedroom.
“At $127,000 I probably got twice as much as those other places I was looking at,” Fest said. “I love it. Owning my own home is something I’ve always been wanting to do. I’m thankful for the program. I don’t think I would be here if not for the program.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobbauder.