Helping a Single Mom Achieve Homeownership
Five years ago, 19-year-old Whitney Whitson had a baby on each hip and nowhere to go. She is now 25 with an education, a career and two beautiful daughters, and will be closing on her first home. “I wanted better for my kids. I wanted the cycle to stop with me,” Whitson said.
After having her second daughter at age 19, Whitson was forced to leave her mother’s house and found a transitional housing program for single parents. There she worked hard to learn parenting skills, give her girls quality education and begin a stable career in medical administration. When it came time to leave transitional housing and live on her own, the place she found turned out not to be the kind of environment she dreamed of for her daughters.
“It wasn’t that the houses were bad or made you not want to live there, it was the people. They would let their kids run crazy, cussing at 7-year olds. There was a lot of domestic violence there, too. A woman would run to your door from someone because she can see your light on, and, of course, the man would follow her there,” Whitson said. “And that is just not what I wanted at all.”
At just the right time in her life, Whitson was referred to Volunteers of America Colorado Branch’s Brunetti Lofts, a residential program aimed at homeownership. Residents living at Brunetti Lofts are offered an income-based rent for their one, two- or three-bedroom apartment in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. The apartment’s 23 renters can then save money and plan for home buying. “The homeownership piece is huge,” Kirsten Strietzel, family service manager at Brunetti Lofts, said as she described that most residents at Brunetti Lofts come from transitional housing situations.
While living at Brunetti, residents get the opportunity to participate in classes related to finance, budget and the home-buying process. Residents receive a gift of $7,000 from Volunteers of America to begin a savings account they build during their time at Brunetti Lofts to put toward their down payment on a house.
“I don’t want to say I don’t have any more goals in my life, but I already have a career, I have been to college and now I am buying a home. At this point, I just want to do the best by my kids. [I want to] raise them the way they deserve to be raised,” Whitson said. “I want to show my kids that every success is possible if you keep working hard and do your best every day.”