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Latisha Steele

A photo of Latisha Steele, who used a MassHousing Mortgage with down payment assistance to buy her first home. Photo by Mike Ritter

Latisha Steele had looked on and off for a home of her own for five years. Now, thanks to her persistence, and help from a small but expert homebuying team and MassHousing, she's happily settled into a brand new townhome in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood.

"The experience was wonderful," Latisha said. "I'm so glad that MassHousing is there to help people like myself purchase a home."

Latisha purchased her home using an affordable MassHousing Mortgage. By taking advantage of MassHousing's Down Payment Assistance program as well as down payment assistance from the City of Boston, Latisha closed on her home with minimal initial costs, and was able to pay off her mortgage insurance with a single, upfront premium. Because the loan is insured by MassHousing, Latisha still gets the added peace of mind that comes with MI Plus mortgage payment protection.

A longtime resident of Boston, Latisha had been renting an affordable apartment with the assistance of a Section 8 voucher. She had completed a homebuyer education class multiple times but had been unable to find the right home.

Her luck changed when she entered a lottery to purchase one of the new homes at Olmsted Green, part of a multi-phase mixed-income rental and homeownership development on the former site of the Boston State Hospital. MassHousing contributed financing for the creation of homeownership units at Olmsted Green through its Workforce Housing Initiative.

Latisha's number in the lottery was so far down the list that she didn't think she would get the chance to purchase a unit at Olmsted Green. But her number came up and now she and her daughter, a nursing student at Quincy College, are settled into their new home.

"You have it in your head that you want to be a homeowner, but the struggle deters you" Latisha said. "I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to buy a home."

A Boston Public School Police Officer for 19 years, Latisha has largely spent the last six at the Martin Luther King School, where MassHousing staff work with students through the Agency's STARR Mentor Program. Latisha is also active in her community, coordinating a holiday gift drive and serving as an assistant basketball coach.

Latisha credits realtor Naomi Malabre for helping her navigate the lottery process, and for introducing her to Amy Wortzman, senior loan officer (NMLS #380664) at Fairway Independent Mortgage (Company NMLS #2289), one of MassHousing's top partner lenders.

"It's the perfect storm of awesomeness," Amy said of Latisha's story. "As a loan officer, it was really a fun puzzle to put together."

Amy was able to connect Latisha with the two down payment assistance programs and the affordable loan from MassHousing.

"It was a no-brainer, really," said Amy. "Leveraging a local lender, taking something hard and making it easier for the homebuyer. When we talk about the power of MassHousing, it's that synergy, that ability to connect people and programs."