When Takieta Stewart reflects on NeighborWorks® Columbus, she becomes emotional. As a single mother of three, college graduate and longtime TSYS employee, Stewart has always dreamed of owning a home regardless of irresponsible financial choices she had made in the past. With over $40K in student loan debt, Stewart wondered if her dream was attainable.
“I finished college and was up to my neck in student loans. How could I ever become a homeowner when I am digging myself into a deeper debt?” she recalled.
Stewart took action and reached out to NeighborWorks® Columbus for assistance. It was then she was introduced to her self-proclaimed “guardian angels” – Housing Counselor Denise Henderson and Mortgage Lending Specialist Nonie Milner. Henderson and Milner taught Stewart the importance of credit and its impact.
“Through the debt counseling classes I had to maintain a budget and track my spending,” said Stewart. “I had no idea how much money I was throwing away when I could have been using that same money to clean up the items on my credit.”
With a new mindset and a dedicated housing counselor, Stewart learned to control her budget, save, and pay off past debts. “Ms. Henderson would call and check up on me just to see how I was doing – the awesomeness of this woman is breathtaking,” she said.
As her credit score increased, Stewart transitioned to lending and was provided a budget to locate a house. Somewhat disappointed, “I didn’t think I would get a two bedroom shack let alone a dream home on that budget,” Stewart laughed.
Armed with over 20 years of mortgage loan experience, specialist Nonie Milner coached Stewart through the lending process. Stewart recalled, “Nonie calmly stated, ‘Look girl, you are not only going to find what you want, but you also find your dream home in the area of the city that you want.’ Those words of encouragement made me cry. Not only did I find just any home, I found my four bedroom, 2 ½ bedroom dream home in a wonderful area.”
Despite challenges and last minute closing issues, the Homeownership Team worked with and advocated for Stewart every step of the way.
“Without NeighborWorks® Columbus, my dreams would have never come true. This organization empowers many who thought they would never own a home. It instills hope that all things are possible when you are willing to take control of your finances and work hard to secure a better future for yourself and your family. With deep appreciation, Stewart commented, “Neighborworks® has allowed me to live the American dream and for that I will be eternally grateful.