Margaret Wallace worked with HUD-certified housing counselor Jeff Smith to go from subsidized housing to owning her home.Margaret Wallace faced numerous hurdles on her journey to homeownership, but in just 11 months, she transformed her reality from living in subsidized housing to owning a condo.

A disabled, single mom of an adult child, Wallace’s story is one of determination, resilience, and the power of a strong support system. She had long dreamed of owning a home, but a work injury 11 years ago derailed her plans causing her to move into subsidized housing. Multiple surgeries pushed her goal further and further away. In September 2023, Wallace was introduced to Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) after registering for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority’s  (CMHA) Section 8 to Home Ownership Program). To participate in this program, renters must participate in WIN’s homeownership program.

Last fall,  Wallace began counseling sessions with her WIN housing counselor Jeff Smith. He recommended that she take WIN’s in-person homebuyer class which she did shortly after her fourth surgery. Wallace said that she knew very little about the home-buying process when she started. “During the classes, they brought in a home inspector, loan officer, and realtor, which helped out a lot” she explained.

“Between seeing Jeff and physical therapy, I was working the program. I had the determination to get it done and not play around,” she said. Smith introduced Wallace to down payment assistance programs including the American Dream Down Payment Initiative (ADDI) and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). Programs that could help Wallace achieve homeowners. If it wasn’t for Jeff, his patience, and the referrals he gave me I wouldn’t be a homeowner,” said Wallace. She persevered and built her team including real estate agent Barry Bates and banker Katara Reliford. “They kept me sane. They didn’t let me quit. They were patient, responding to any questions I had. If a situation came up that I didn’t know how to navigate, they helped me,” explained Wallace.

In April, Wallace closed on a condo in St. Bernard just 15 minutes from her Finneytown rental. She appreciates the stability of not having to worry about sudden rent increases. “I can just breathe,” she said. For Wallace, homeownership is not just about the present, “I looked up what the price range of the condo was a few years ago and what it is today – and it’s an investment for me,” she explained.

Wallace is now taking advantage of WIN’s post-purchase counseling where she’s learning about home repair programs, taxes, and long-term budgets to ensure her success as a homeowner. “When you pick your team, make sure it is a good team that is going to work for you, not against you. I picked the right team,” Wallace concluded.