The day she left an abusive relationship in 2016, Fortune had saved just enough money for a deposit on an apartment for her and her two kids. She left with no high school degree, no work experience and zero savings. At 27, she didn’t know anything about credit, and her score ranked poor.
What she did know: Fortune was going to buy a home for her family.
“Being in a domestic violence situation, and having children – it just gave me determination,” she said.
First, she needed to cut back on expenses and improve her credit. She went to Clarifi, the largest nonprofit in the Delaware Valley, offering free, one-on-one financial and housing counseling to people in economically marginalized and underserved communities.
A Clarifi counselor helped her build credit and access safe banking products. She learned how to budget. Over the next few years, she saved money, improved her credit score and set new milestones until she was ready to buy a home.
By the time she purchased her first home in December 2022, Fortune had developed a savings mindset, putting enough money aside for mishaps, repairs and other unexpected expenses. On top of major kitchen and bathroom renovations, the pipes in Fortune’s home burst within months of her moving in, spewing sewage water in the living room. She needed new plumbing and a new toilet, and to redo the walls.
“Having that small little extra nest that I had, I was able to get the plumbing done,” Fortune said. “I don’t know that I would have thought about those things if I hadn’t gone to Clarifi. I’d never had these discussions.
“I don’t even know if I would have been able to purchase, to be quite honest,” she added.
After the plumbing repairs, Fortune would need to wait and save up for cosmetic repairs – until she got a call from Clarifi saying she qualified for a $5,000 Financial Resilience grant, as part of a funding initiative for new homeowners who completed pre-purchase counseling through Clarifi.
“I was able to make sure that the house was beautiful again,” Fortune said.
Now, Fortune has her own business as a title agent, and she owns an asset she can pass along to her kids someday: generational wealth.
Fortune’s story is what we mean when we say that homeownership should be accessible to everyone.