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Apr 01

From Section 8 to Homeownership

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 6:43 pm by Dawn Corrigan

Sweneda BerrianThe Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8, is a federal housing program designed to assist very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. For elderly and disabled families, the voucher program is often a tool to assist with independent living. For working families, the voucher helps create a workable household budget by ensuring that no more than 40% of monthly household income goes toward rent and utilities.

Many voucher families use this increased stability to pursue training, education, or better employment opportunities, working toward the goal of household self-sufficiency. Recently Pensacola Housing staff member Tracy Pickens spoke with Sweneda Berrian (pictured), who made the transition from Section 8 to homeownership.

When you first became a Section 8 Voucher recipient did you have a goal of homeownership, or a plan?
Yes. In 2003, I received my housing choice voucher. It allowed me to receive assistance with my rent, enabling me to work and pursue my education at the same time. I knew in order to achieve homeownership, as well as my other goals, education would be a key factor in achieving success.

Do you feel as though Section 8 provided you the opportunity to achieve your goals?
Yes. From 2003 to 2011 I participated in the voucher program. Because I had stable housing I was able to stay focused on my goals. Through the years I had minor setbacks, but not having to worry about housing enabled me to overcome obstacles.

Would you have been able to achieve home ownership without Section 8?
Yes and No. I have always been driven to reach my goals, but Section 8 allowed me to reach them sooner than I might have without rental assistance. I had a child to consider, so housing was critical for me. Not having to worry about somewhere to live gave me peace of mind. I am very grateful I was able to benefit from the program.

How was your first time home-buying experience through the SHIP Program?
Smoother than I anticipated. I did my homework first so I would be prepared for my home-buying journey. Fortunately, I had a great lender, and a great realtor as well, who guided me through the process, making the experience less overwhelming. Everything fell into place as if it was meant to be. I am very blessed to have had the help.

Would your home purchase have been possible without the SHIP Program assistance with a down payment and closing costs?
No. Without the program I would not have to been able to make my home purchase at this time. While I was ready for the mortgage payment, it would have been a struggle to afford the additional costs that go along with the purchase.

How would you describe your overall experience with Pensacola Housing programs?
Excellent. The Section 8 voucher program provided stable rental housing that allowed me to pursue my education, provide for my child, and reach financial independence. The SHIP First Time Home Buyer Program assisted me in reaching my goal of homeownership. Through hard work and utilizing the tools that were available to me, I really am proof that our housing programs are designed for success.