They made thirteen moves in sixteen years. Donna Legare and her husband, Joe Houlihan, were tired.

There was the kitchen infested with roaches and a neighborhood infested with drugs. There was the racial harassment and violence outside their window. Buildings were sold and rents were raised, and raised again.

“I got to the point where I never unpacked everything,” said Donna Legare. “I felt like we were drifting.”

The worst was an apartment they moved to with their daughter, Josie Rose, to be closer to family. The water smelled foul. When the roof leaked, the manager just gave them a bucket. Donna found out the huge electric bill was because the other apartments were connected to their meter. Then their monthly rent was hiked $400.

The couple was beat up physically from lifetimes of physical, demanding work, and beat up mentally from barely scraping by and living in stressful, unhealthy environments. Both were disabled because of illness or injury, and close to facing eviction.

“I said, ‘Joe, we can’t pay rent anymore. We have to find a cheaper way of living,’” Donna said.

They found a manufactured home on an acre of land in Sandown, NH. The house’s age and Donna and Joe’s lack of credit meant they couldn’t get a bank loan, but Donna went online and found the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s (Community Loan Fund) Welcome Home Loans.

The house had three bedrooms, a covered porch, garage, and a fenced area for their dogs. The owner was willing to lower the price for a family that would move in, and Community Loan Fund was offering a fixed-rate long-term loan to purchase. Their realtor and family offered additional support.

Not dissuaded by the couple’s lack of traditional credit, Community Loan Fund accepted an alternative form: proof of past loan and utility payments, demonstrating the couples' borrower dependability.

Donna and Joe “cried like babies” when they bought the home.

“Every day I wake up here, I’m happy,” said Donna. “We save a little money, we work on things, and we’re getting there. But the biggest thing is, this is our forever home. We are … finally … home.”

To share your #CDFIstory with OFN, contact Lindsay Li, blog editor and social media strategist.


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