Mark Stenson stands proudly in front of his new home in Colerain. “There’s not a day that goes by that I wonder, how did God give me everything I needed in this house? This to me is a miracle,” said 65-year-old Mark Stenson. In less than a year, Stenson changed his financial reality from “living disability check to disability check” to having financial stability.

At 58, the divorced father of three, who had spent his entire career in the restaurant industry, could no longer stand due to a work-related injury, so he decided to take disability. “Things were tight,” said Stenson. When his roommates decided to move, Stenson realized that if he stayed, most of his income would be for rent. Frustrated by his situation, he reached out to his sister, Joanne. She asked him if he had considered buying a house.

Stenson had owned a home when he was married. However, at his age, he was skeptical. After a pep talk from his sister, the pair began repairing his credit. In October 2022, Joanne introduced Stenson to a banker. At that meeting, he learned about Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) homeownership program. “This program gave me keys to open doors to get where I needed to go. I started applying what I had learned. The next time I looked at my bank account, it was working,” said Stenson.  Wanting to speed up the process, Stenson talked with his doctor and decided to re-enter the workforce as a forklift operator.

He continued to work on his credit score and saved money. He was ecstatic when he learned he was pre-approved for a $100,000 mortgage and began touring homes in that price range. Discouraged by the conditions of the houses, Stenson reached out to WIN’s HUD-certified housing counselor, Jeff Smith, who reminded him to talk with more than one lender. Stenson applied with two other institutions, and one of them pre-approved him for a $165,000 loan.

In eleven months of working on the plan, Stenson found his dream home, a three-bedroom, fully-equipped ranch in Colerain. When he talks about his new life, you can hear the joy and gratitude in his voice; “Jeff always pointed me in the right direction. Jeff, my sister, and Jessica, my realtor, got me the keys to my house. Being a homeowner makes all the difference in the world. When I pay my mortgage, it’s like going to the bank and putting money in my account. When I rented, I knew I would never see that money again.”