I am writing to share how Solita’s house has helped me keep my home. I am transplant to Florida and moved here while I was employed on a National team where I was based from home. This gave me the freedom to move here to Tampa. I sold my house at 21 years after my
youngest turned 20 years old. I had finally seemed like I had landed the perfect job of my career. I bought a wonderful home in the sunny state of Florida. Coming from the Cold Midwest. I was slow to realize that I was an easy target for crafty predators, in all areas of the housing market. It took thousands of dollars later to bring my home that looked so beautiful to the naked eye up to code. (This is the first place outside of my home state where I have lived.) Less than a year later I was laid off due to Covid. Of course it was devastating. I had committed my whole
adult life to community building. But I was no longer in the community I helped to build. So I thought I am going to go into business for myself. So I invested some of my savings to launch my business. I lived off my severance. I worked at my new business. It was great; However being new to Tampa, building a new customer base was tough; especially with us navigating a Pandemic. So I looked for work, decided to use my business as a side hustle and get back into a career. Unfortunately, I just could not find anything in my field. I was working three part time jobs and still could not meet all my bills. Finally, I looked up mortgage support programs I had been in forbearance, caught covid, lost income from all three jobs while I had covid. Once I thought I found gainful employment. I Left the three jobs to take one full time job. The job ended up being a scam. I applied for modification due to hardship. By the time I met my foreclosure prevention counselor, I was ready to sell my house and go back where I came from. But where would I live? My children, being adults, had earned the right to live their adult lives and I knew I’d be paying more for rent then I would for a mortgage. My FCP counselor was very patient and clear. “We got to try and get you some more income beyond self-employment. You’re not going to find what you have in that house in the rental market at an affordable rate. We can do this” she said. I told her I’ve been looking for so long.
Once upon a time I wanted to work in this building for the CDC. (Solita’s House is their community partner and has office space in the building.) I even offered to volunteer there when I learned there were no job openings. I continued to explain that I had met with David Jones, at this very building where her office was. He had looked at my resume. She said “David Jones, that’s my brother from another mother.” I’ll have to tell him you were here. She wrote down his info on a sticky note, gave it to me. Little did I know she had texted him while I was in her office. As I sat there going over the financial information I brought with her. I get a call from David Jones, his info still saved in my phone. almost two years later. He says hey Irawo how have you been? Listen, we have an opening. You would be a good match for. “Let’s get you in here for an interview.” Just like that after applying for countless jobs for over a year in my field. Marta reconnects me back to David at CDC’s career center. It was just the boost I needed. He sent me the job descriptions and we went from there. I came back to meet with Marta, employed which is what she prescribed me to do.
This is what I needed to do to be eligible for financial assistance with my mortgage. It was not the job with CDC. I had taken on a “For now job.” It paid half of what I made when I moved. here. It was not in my field but there were some positives: it was consistent income. It gave me routine and let me share my purpose. But Also it was a blessing because being employed made me eligible for the mortgage support program. I brought her my offer letter for my new job and my first pay stub, along with the other documents requested. She gave me the application to apply and a way to show my self employment income with my earned income to make sure I was eligible. Marta also helped me see I needed to make a decision on whether or not I would modify my mortgage. The grant brought me out of arrears and helped me pay my utilities.
The other important thing I learned was that my mortgage and APR could go up significantly even though my income was now less. When the modification proposal came in the mail I brought it to Marta ASAP so I could make sure I understood the document. She went over the
document with me so that I could understand the long term effects of me accepting this modification. It was clear it was not in my favor to accept it. My APR would more than double and my mortgage would increase by a couple hundred dollars for sure. In fact, if I decided to accept the modification. I declined the modification. I kept my eyes set on the prize. I was waiting for the CDC to invite me to an interview. I knew I was the perfect fit. My love for community building my background in training and coaching. This is what the CDC is all about. I kept my stride for two months at the “Good for now job.” Several interviews later I landed a job in my field with the CDC. I had been calling Marta to let her know every update with the mortgage and the job. Being able to have someone stay in the process during so much transition was so helpful. The day I signed my offer letter. I brought her a copy. I was able to come out of hardship status with the mortgage company. I am now the Job developer/ Trainer for the CDC. I have even been able to encourage a couple of customers to resume their home ownership goals with Solita’s house. As well as sharing some of my experience in one-on-one sessions with my customers, to encourage other job seekers staying
the course. I am so thankful to land the job I knew I’d be proud to have. Thank you Marta Labiosa And David Jones. I appreciate you. It’s great to finally feel at home in Tampa and be in community with you.
I am so thankful for all your help with keeping my home. I know I have more work to do. I appreciate all your guidance.