Borrower Help Centers Improve the Odds of Sustainable Homeownership
MAKING HOME POSSIBLE IN NEVADA
In historically underserved communities, a lack of access to financial and housing education keeps many would-be homeowners on the sidelines. To help expand homeownership opportunities, Freddie Mac’s Borrower Help Center Network provides education and outreach to low- and middle-income homebuyers. In Las Vegas, Chicanos Por La Causa is helping families parlay financial empowerment into homeownership.
In addition to financial education, Borrower Help Centers like Chicanos Por La Causa offer free support and resources for both prospective homebuyers and current homeowners facing hardships. This work is personal for housing counselor Thomas Rivera.
“When the 2009 economy hit, work went down, I couldn’t make payments on my house and I lost it,” said Rivera. “Many families today know about that all too well. And that’s why I decided to work for Chicanos Por La Causa.”
Rivera’s desire to help those going through similar situations led him to become a HUD-certified housing counselor. In this role, he helps people understand and prepare for sustainable homeownership through a variety of channels, including credit counseling, financial aid and foreclosure prevention.
Financial education is a critical part of these efforts. To provide a basic understanding of personal finances, Chicanos Por La Causa uses Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart®,a free online resource that can be a powerful tool in preparing consumers for homeownership. In 2022, nearly 140,000 people benefitted from CreditSmart, and that number is expected to grow with the recent launch of CreditSmart Español.
“CreditSmart provides all the information, all the tools, all the elements,” Rivera said.
The value of the CreditSmart curriculum is evident in Rivera’s work with Nessa Fletcher, a single mother from Las Vegas with a dream of becoming a homeowner.
Unsure of how to turn her dream of homeownership into a reality, Fletcher was introduced to Rivera and Chicanos Por La Causa by a friend who also used their counseling services.
“I always wanted to be a homeowner, but I had the mindset that it’s all about money,” Fletcher said. “I didn’t understand credit. I never knew what it was until I got older.”
With limited savings and a low credit score, she was skeptical about finding a path forward. Working with Rivera, she began to see that her goal was indeed achievable.
“Meeting Thomas gave me the vision. Like, ‘You can be a homeowner — it’s OK, there are people out here to help you,’” Fletcher said.
Using what she learned from CreditSmart, Fletcher was able to improve her credit score, build her savings, and eventually purchase her first home. In addition to achieving her goal of homeownership, Fletcher gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that she plans to share with her daughters.
“I showed my kids that if you have to reverse, it’s OK. But keep moving forward,” Fletcher said. “I want them to learn what credit is, because the earlier you learn, the better off you’ll be later in life. Go find out what you need to do to build your credit, and then the doors will open after that.”
For his part, Rivera continues to find motivation in helping families like the Fletchers.
“Buying a house gives you pride and is something you can leave behind for your children as an inheritance,” Rivera said. “I like helping out the community. That’s what’s important.”
To learn more about Freddie Mac’s commitment to Make Home Possible for all homebuyers, in all communities, visit the Our Mission page.