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Jul 27, 2022

The Primary Way Families Break the Cycle of Poverty

Sponsored Content provided by JC Lyle - Executive Director, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry

Ms. Freda, an 80-year-old cancer survivor, has lived in her downtown Wilmington home for over 40 years. Hurricane Florence badly damaged her roof which led to water intrusion and, eventually, mold. The cost to repair exceeded $15,500; her annual Social Security income is just over $12,000. 

She had homeowners’ insurance and was awarded a claim but, sadly, she became the victim of post-disaster contractor fraud, costing her the money she spent on repairs that never happened.

Now, she was out of money and unable to afford repairs on her own. She was afraid she would have to sell her home as many of her neighbors did. Fortunately, she qualified for WARM’s free home repair services.  Compassionate volunteers made the over-due repairs needed to keep the spunky senior in her home for years to come. 

Now, she can safely live out her golden years and pass her home to the next generation. Ms. Freda’s heirs will have a head start in a town where housing costs are skyrocketing

Many people who work in public service, healthcare, hospitality, and entry level jobs cannot afford to live where they work. But Ms. Freda’s wise investment, bolstered by WARM donors and volunteers, will offer her family the option to live in the city or use the equity to create a life elsewhere.

Ms. Freda’s story illustrates the primary way families break the cycle of poverty: homeownership

When a family has lived in poverty for two generations or more, they’ve established a pattern of generational poverty. Children born into poverty may lack the resources, education, and/or hope to change their trajectory. This puts them at a disadvantage well into adulthood. And the cycle continues. 

But one choice, purchasing a home, followed by years of financial discipline, can literally change the future.

Here’s another important thing about Ms. Freda. She has paid off her mortgage! 

She is not alone; over 50 percent of WARM homeowners have no mortgage. This usually creates a few of these benefits:

  1. They have built tens of thousands of dollars in equity, creating wealth for their family.
  2. They have raised children in a stable environment conducive to learning and dreaming.
  3. The family has owned and occupied the home for decades, helping stabilize their neighborhood.
  4. They have higher savings than their peers who rent; rents increase over time while mortgage payments stay the same.
  5. They have better health outcomes than if they had experienced housing instability or homelessness during the same period.
Helping families of low wealth retain homeownership status is critical. They are more likely than families of higher wealth to lose their home and less likely to return to homeownership status

When homeowners can’t afford a costly repair such as a roof replacement, they may decide that selling the home is their only option. WARM was created to give them another choice. We support families on their journey out of poverty by making urgent home repairs and accessibility upgrades. 
With the help of volunteers, WARM completed Ms. Freda’s repairs for under $10,000, helping her retain her home valued at just over $200,000 – quite a return on investment! 

WARM helps nearly 200 people like Ms. Freda every year, with far-reaching impacts to her family and her community. Imagine the future of our entire community – home by home and family by family – if every hard-working household could enjoy the safety, financial security, and joy of a home they own.
 
Photo Caption:
WARM volunteers replace Ms. Freda’s ceiling more than two years after Hurricane Florence damaged the home.

 

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