James Baker is the 26th graduate of United Way’s Pathway to Homeownership Program. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 19, James celebrated his family’s new home with the people who had helped him reach his goal of homeownership.
James first reached out to United Way for tax assistance in 2014. At the time, he was finishing up his last semester at Hood College, majoring in Business Management and concentrating in International Finance and Economics. During his time at Hood, both James and his wife Andrea began working for AmeriCorps. After graduating from Hood College and having his first child, James started working at United Way as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2015. At United Way, James helped build the Budget Coach Program in the Prosperity Center. He was hired as a full-time employee in 2017 as the Prosperity Center Manager. As a Prosperity Center Manager, James helped to build the Pathway to Homeownership program that he eventually took advantage of to buy a home for his family.
James bought a land trust home through Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity does both homes and land trust houses. With land trust houses, the land is owned by a trust and the house is owned by the homeowner, which significantly reduces the price of the house, compared to the current market value. In the end, with the Pathway to Homeownership Program, James was only paying $10 more than he was on rent.
Homeownership is the way out for many ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families. The Baker family hasn’t reached all their financial goals yet, but through their continued efforts, they have bought their first home and they are making enough money to save to reach their goals and continue on their Pathway to Financial Stability.
“There’s a closing door for me,” James said. “Coming from an apartment to, like me starting on my first day having an apartment with United Way, to... ending my journey of getting my first home.”