Celebrating Homeownership

Celebrating Homeownership

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Remembering Aggie Brose
Homeowner Story: Sarah & Jonathan
First Anniversary with Elevate412
Reflections on Service: Olivia and Quinn
Preparing Future Homeowners
What's Next with NeigborWorks?

Remembering Aggie Brose

Last week, Pittsburgh lost a true community leader.  Aggie Brose was a friend and mentor to many. She co-founded Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, where she served as Deputy Director for 42 years and was a founding member of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group. She served on the NWWPA board for 17 years and, when she retired in late 2017 after 40+ years of community service, became the organization's first board member emeritus. Rightly referred to in her obituary as one of the city’s “most tenacious and longest serving advocates of community safety and social justice,” Aggie received many awards and accolades over her long career, and was honored by NeighborWorks America​ in December with the Visionary Leader in Community Development Award. Aggie will be missed dearly by her friends, family, and colleagues, but her legacy lives on in the lives of those she touched.

Homeowner Story: Sarah & Jonathan 

This month, we are excited to feature homeowners Sarah and Jonathan Berry and their daughter Shiloh. Sarah and Jonathan have been homeowners for over a year now. We asked Sarah a few questions about why she attended our workshop and what homeownership has been like so far. 

1. Why did you want to become a homeowner?

We were tired of renting, of living in "someone else's house." Among other things, we wanted the freedom to be able to paint the walls if we felt like it! My husband Jonathan really wanted a yard he could work in and call his own. I think homeownership has a lot to do with being able to make your own decisions about your living space. 

2. Why did you decide to take NWWPA's Homebuyer Workshop?

A friend had taken the course and loved it. She said she hadn't realized how much she *didn't* know about purchasing and owning a home, and I realized I was in the exact same boat! Commercials often make it seem like securing the mortgage is the biggest thing you have to worry about, but the process is more complex than that. Having NeighborWorks help explain many of those things was incredibly helpful and so valuable. 

3. What does homeownership mean to you? What has it been like to own your own home?

It really is freeing to know that this is OUR home. There is no landlord to say that they sold the building, or that we need to move so that his mother can live in our apartment. It is OUR house. Security - that's what that means to me. I was pregnant when we bought our house and knowing that we moved to a safer neighborhood with other families and children around makes me proud that we took that step for our daughter. It has also been really daunting to own our own house. The buck stops with us, as it were. If something breaks, or leaks, or doesn't work, we have to find the money to get it repaired or replace it. 

4. What advice would you give to others considering homeownership?

Definitely take the NeighborWorks Homebuyer Workshop! You don't know what you don't know - it was so helpful to learn about homeowners insurance, finding a realtor, and how mortgages and paying them really works, too. Another piece of advice is to work with a realtor who doesn't mind taking the time to explain things, like municipal tax rates, and who is very familiar with the communities you're considering. 

Buying my first house (Jonathan has owned homes in the past) was something that I didn't think was going to be possible financially as I got older. I wanted to own a home so badly, but it seemed so daunting. Being able to take the course and have help navigating making this dream a reality was invaluable. 

First Anniversary with Elevate412

One year ago, NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania joined the region's first community marketing collective, elevate412. Along with our partners -- Economic Development South, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Steel Rivers COG, Turtle Creek Valley COG, and Tri-COG Land Bank -- we celebrate the success of elevate412's first year. Our organizations share a Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Hindes of TrailBlaze Creative, who provides each organization with long-term, consistent marketing strategies and opportunities we would not otherwise have access to or would be unable to afford.

NWWPA has  utilized the elevate412 collaboration to develop, target, and promote our homeownership services to new audiences. “Seeing our goals come to fruition and our mission expanded via the efforts of our work with elevate412, we are excited to continue in a more inclusive direction that will benefit a larger constituency of people in our community,” says NWWPA CEO Colin Kelley. Tim and his team have led a rebranding effort and are helping us launch a new website. We look forward to continued work with Tim, Trailblaze, and our collaborative partners in the coming year.

Reflections on Service: Olivia and Quinn

Olivia Dale is originally from New Jersey and studied at the University of Pittsburgh and served with PULSE as our Development and Communications Associate.

Quinn Kobelak is a Pittsburgh native who studied at Allegheny College and served with AmeriCorps VISTA as our Financial Capability Associate. 
This year of service has been so informative and impactful for me. I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned at NeighborWorks and everyone I’ve been lucky enough to work with along the way. My favorite thing about my position was it was a mix of everything. I really enjoyed writing and creating content for our newsletter and social media, but I also got to communicate with our former customers about their experiences with NeighborWorks. That’s where I was able to see our impact. Something unexpected about my year of service was getting the chance to work alongside Quinn and Haleigh, who were also doing a year of service, with AmeriCorps VISTA and Public Allies. The three of us collaborated on a lot of different projects and it was helpful to work with individuals who were going through a similar experience. Thank you PULSE and thank you NeighborWorks!   -Olivia

I really loved the opportunity to swim through all the knowledge in the financial literacy and homebuyer education industry.  Not only has it been incredibly beneficial to my own development, it has added a super useful frame through which to view our built environment and our broader economy.  I know it blew my mind as a 12-year old to learn that money was just paper! I think that my favorite part was learning more about the socially-constructed nature of money, the way it operates, and seeing the impact of that reframing on our customers. Though it’s rather abstract, bringing those ideas to our financial education really improved our mutual learning in our financial wellness classes. I really appreciate my “fellow fellows” Haleigh and Olivia who helped me a lot on reviewing curriculum and a ton of other projects.  Thank you to you both! And thank you to AmeriCorps VISTA and to all the staff at NeighborWorks Western PA that helped me along the way!   -Quinn

Preparing Future Homeowners

Homebuyer Workshop on July 13 at Oakland Planning and Development Corporation sponsored by PNC Bank. 
For those who are thinking about a home purchase, NWWPA’s first-time homebuyer workshops are the perfect place to start. Participants learn how to shop for a home, navigate loan options, and plan for down payment and closing costs. Loan officers, real estate agents, home inspectors, and insurance representatives cover everything from credit to closing. 

This month, we offered community-based workshops in partnership with Oakland Planning and Development (OPDC) and Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation (BGC). A July 13th workshop at OPDC was sponsored by PNC Bank and included presentations from PNC mortgage loan officer Nicole Brosky, insurance agent Tiffany Nolan of i.e. Insurance, and NWWPA Homebuyer & Financial Counselor, Regina MacDowell. A July 20th workshop at BGC was sponsored by KeyBank and included presentations by KeyBank mortgage loan officer Anthony Cafardi and NWWPA Homebuyer & Financial Counselor Tammy Grzelka. 

After Homebuyer Workshops, future homeowners are encouraged to meet one-on-one with one of NWWPA's knowledgable and experienced housing counselors. Counseling sessions build on the customer's new knowledge while catering to their individual needs that put them on the path to homeownership. 

What's Next with NeighborWorks?

August 1

August 10

August 19 - 23

August 28

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