Throughout the seven years they worked to buy their first home, the Báez Family remained steadfast that they would not be deterred despite several setbacks.
It wasn’t until they received a grant for their down payment and closing costs through MassHousing's MassDREAMS program, and additional down payment assistance from the city of Boston, that they were finally able to purchase a condominium in East Boston for them and their two sons.
"There was a lot of anxiety, but we made it," said Mrs. Báez. "We would not have this home if not for MassDREAMS. We would not be able to do it. I didn’t have enough money."
MassDREAMS (Delivering Real Equity and Mortgage Stability) was designed to address the racial homeownership gap, and to boost Massachusetts communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The impact has exceeded the program's high expectations. The program was launched last September, and due to popularity was suspended the following November. In just 79 days, MassHousing paired MassDREAMS grants with its affordable home mortgage loans to help hundreds of low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers – many of whom are people of color – purchase a home in Massachusetts. Like the Baez Family, many borrowers who received grants also benefitted from MassHousing's existing down payment assistance program.
The Báez Family was in awe as they first stood in their new home and the reality struck them that it was all theirs after many years of renting in East Boston.
"It was very hard to believe it was ours after seven years of trying," she said.
Her youngest son, who recently is six years old, supplied some unexpected levity as he surveyed his new home.
"Mom, this bathroom looks like a hotel," he gushed. Looking out a window and seeing a view of the East Boston Waterfront, he was excited that it was going to be a daily experience.
"He was very happy when we said this was our new home," said Mrs. Báez. "It was like a present from Santa," she laughed.
To be able to purchase a home in her longtime community was an added blessing for the family since school, work and life routines remained the same.
"I am part of a church community that is like a family," said Mrs. Báez. "We are so grateful to be able to stay in the same community."
The Baez Family was able to buy their condo through an affordable housing lottery and had told their landlord that were moving out when their mortgage financing fell through at the last minute. MassHousing’s Homeownership staff jumped into action, connected them with Leticia Rave, a loan officer at Rockland Trust, and facilitated their MassDREAMS grant that helped put them over the top to securing a mortgage they can afford.
"This was one of the most fulfilling first-time homebuyer stories," said Leticia. "I have been in the mortgage business for 20 years and 30 years total in banking. What I love about my job is that every buyer is unique and I make sure to make them feel that way, make them feel like they are my only customer. I enjoyed working with the Báez Family. It was really satisfying to be able to save this deal for them because of the great programs offered by MassHousing and all of the people involved in the loan process. I am so happy for them and hope to be able to continue helping more first-time homebuyers to discover their potential. Being an immigrant myself, I perfectly understand the limitations we think we have until someone tells us, ‘Yes, you can also be a homeowner.""