Esperanza Camarillo, a single mother of three, purchased a foreclosed house in the Lincoln Village neighborhood on the South Side for $3,500. She went through financial counseling with ACTS Housing in April and purchased her home at the beginning of August.
“I’ve been saving so long; my kids deserve more. Once I got the house, the kids were so excited because everyone gets their own room now. To have more money in my pocket, basically that’s why I decided to purchase my home,” said Camarillo. “Half of my check [went] to the rent.”
ACTS provided some loans and grants, and Camarillo invested a significant amount of her own savings to close the deal. She completed most of the home rehabilitation herself, although she needed assistance with some repairs, including a leaky roof, which she hired a roofer to fix.
“I have five years under my belt working in construction and a little bit of everything,” Camarillo said. I have more money to put into the house with me doing the labor.” She added that she likes working on her own, so it can “be done the right way the first time, [rather] than having to go back in and fix someone else’s mistake.”
Hilaria Rios, ACTS housing specialist, knew Esperanza for 15 years as the friend of her oldest daughter. When Camarillo told her friend that she was looking to buy a house, she was referred to Rios.
“This is a really great program, and it’s available to anyone looking to buy a house,” Rios said. “A lot of people don’t know of the process of how to buy a house. It’s so easy; you just have to connect to the right people.”
ACTS does outreach at community resources fairs, and many hear of it through word of mouth. The organization has helped more than 2,000 families, almost 900 of which have moved into rehabbed houses such as Esperanza’s.
Esperanza, who closed on her house recently, has already referred some families to Rios. “They didn’t know that these kinds of programs already exist,” she said.