For many people, home ownership is the ultimate American dream. But for some, it’s a dream that can feel just out of reach.
That’s why the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) offers comprehensive home ownership and family self-sufficiency programs. In their 17th year, the programs offer tailored solutions to qualifying HACEP residents who want to own their own home.
“This is not a cookie cutter program, instead we work to create a holistic set of solutions which empower residents based upon their unique set of circumstances,” said Sergio Melendez, HACEP’s Family Self-Sufficiency program coordinator. “We begin by working on increasing educational attainment and consumer credit counseling and move on increasing their financial literacy and promoting self-sufficiency.”
HACEP officials share that the first step is enrolling in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. The voluntary program is available for adults who live in Public Housing or participate in Housing Choice Voucher programs. It’s a 5-year training and offers services to assist with skills of being employed, increase earnings, eliminate welfare assistance and sharpen other skills. Once it is completed, residents are eligible for the Homeownership Program.
To date, 74 people have completed the program and become homeowners. Another 129 are currently enrolled in the program and are on their way toward home ownership.
While the programs take years to complete, Melendez said the impact home ownership has on a family can last generations.
“People who have completed the program will call me years later saying, ‘It just hit me’,” he said. “They feel a sense of stability that they and their children have a place to call their own, that they’ll never have to move on short notice because the landlord sold the house they were living in, that they’re building equity in a home which is truly theirs, and that they and their children have a sense of stability unlike any they’ve ever had before.”
In order for families to participate in the HCV and FSS programs, they must complete homeownership counseling, be a first-time homebuyer, meet HUD income limits and participate in HCV or Public Housing Programs.
HACEP hosts monthly orientations sessions in English and Spanish for those who are interested. For more information, call (915) 849-3604.