CityLift makes homeownership dreams a reality in recovering neighborhoods

Cinthya Melero’s and Luis Barajas’ house was giving them nothing but headaches. The small row house they rented in Pullman, dating from the 1880s, had become too small for their family.

Wouldn’t it be nice, the couple wondered, to buy our first home, one that would be big enough for us and our three kids?
“We didn’t think we could buy a home,” Melero says. “We were worried about our credit, and we didn’t have a lot of money saved for a down payment.”
Nonetheless, Melero and Barajas decided to buckle down on savings and start looking for homes. One night, they saw a story on the news about a new program called CityLift, administered by Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago and Wells Fargo. The CityLift Program was announced as part of a settlement between Wells Fargo, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and the Department of Justice that settled allegations of racial discrimination in mortgage lending.
Melero and Barajas quickly made an appointment with NHS and were thrilled to discover that they qualified for the program. After comprehensive homeowner education courses, the couple hit the ground running looking for an affordable home in a good school district, near public transit, and with low crime. They found the “home of our dreams,” says Barajas, in south suburban Chicago Heights and closed on January 17, 2013.
“Our kids feel like different people,” says Barajas. “Our new driveway is so long, my daughter quickly learned how to ride her bike on it. I felt a boulder lifted off my shoulders the first night we slept in our new house.”
“Thank God for CityLift,” adds Melero. “Without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We are so happy.”


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