From Renter to Homeowner

In New Brunswick, the vast majority of residents rent their homes (about 80%).

Low-wage work, high rental prices, expensive housing with limited vacancy, and a deteriorating housing stock are the unfortunate reality for too many of our residents hoping to transition from renters to homeowners. To tackle these challenges, New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT) has collaborated with partners to support first-time home buyers and develop new or rehabbed housing units.

Jose Nanez and Raudi Herrera, first-generation immigrants from Colombia and Honduras, respectively, have lived in New Brunswick for seven years. While renting apartments in converted single-family homes is common in New Brunswick, it can be complicated sharing a space with others, particularly with two young children -- as is the case with Jose and Raudi. Yet buying a home seemed an unattainable dream for them. All they’ve ever heard was how expensive it was, and they assumed their economic situation, working in the same factory together, wouldn’t allow them to do so.

While looking for a new place to live, Jose and Raudi were introduced to Address Yourself, the affordable homeownership initiative led by NBT’s partner New Jersey Community Capital. Address Yourself combines budgeting, pre-purchase, and credit counseling with access to low-cost mortgage products. Along with NBT’s partnership with PRAB’s Housing Coalition, these support services help aspiring New Brunswick homeowners like Jose and Raudi at every step of the process to attain their dream of homeownership.

Initially, the whole home buying process seemed very complicated to them. But, counseling in their native Spanish made the experience easier and gave them confidence that they understood the whole process.

Having lived in New Brunswick for quite a few years and now accustomed to its comfort and convenience, it was important for Jose and Raudi to put down roots here. Everything they need is nearby, including their children’s schools, shops, hospitals, and even the laundromat.

As luck would have it, they were given the opportunity to purchase a home on their same block. This single-family home in the Esperanza Neighborhood of New Brunswick was renovated by the Community Asset Preservation Corporation (CAPC), a subsidiary of NJCC and another partner in NBT’s Esperanza Collaborative. CAPC is a non-profit organization that stabilizes neighborhoods through the acquisition and redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties, returning them to productive use as quality, affordable homes.

“When I saw it, I could not believe it was the same deteriorated house that my friend had pointed out to me previously,” Jose said of his new home, “I feel comfortable letting my kids play all over the house because when we were renting, the apartment had spaces where it wasn’t safe because there were sharp edges that stuck out. But now, this is a luxury home.”

Once they found this newly renovated home, they worked closely with Integro agent Raul Cabrera and the Address Yourself team to prepare for the purchase and secure financing through their partner credit unions. Though initially the home still seemed financially unattainable, Jose and Raudi were able to utilize $10,000 in down payment assistance through Address Yourself and $50,000 in subsidy fromNew Brunswick Tomorrow with funding provided by the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) award. This significant financial assistance made all the difference in being able to afford the home. Jose and Raudi feel relief that their combined salary can comfortably pay their mortgage without having to work overtime to pay for it.

Though they say that it is a huge responsibility, it is worth it because they now feel at ease without having to worry about the physical restrictions in an apartment or limited privacy of living with others.

“There’s no words to describe what it feels like to be a homeowner. There’s a pride one feels in knowing that it’s yours,” Jose said of living in their new home.

Since the home is newly renovated, Jose and Raudi don’t have plans to upgrade the home, but they do want to personalize it. They have ideas on how they’d like to change the front façade of the home and update the patio to make it their own.

The family is overjoyed at the life they have to look forward to in their new home. To other low-moderate income and immigrant families who think homeownership may be beyond their reach, they had this to say: “Buying a home is such an important thing for a family because it’s where you’ll live your life. Never stop dreaming and working towards it because you can do it. Just surround yourself with the right people to help you. We are so thankful for all the help we received from Raul Cabrera, our realtor, Address Yourself, CAPC, and NBT.”

Any families interested in first-home homeownership can reach out to NBT’s Housing Manager, Diana Diaz, at

September 30, 2021

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