Lutheran Social Service Financial Counseling Helps Minnesotans Achieve Their Homeownership Goals
June is National Homeownership Month, an opportunity to learn about taking financial control and making owning a home a reality.
“Purchasing a home is a big commitment, and the preparation can seem daunting at first,” said Sandi Kleist, director of Homeownership Services for LSS Financial Counseling. “But with commitment and hard work, individuals can achieve their dream of home ownership by building a solid plan and sticking to it.”
LSS financial counselors work with individuals to help them get their finances in order before a home purchase and provide knowledgeable guidance through the process.
“We help people assess their financial situation and determine whether they’re ready to buy, what they can afford, any barriers they may face and what resources are available to them,” Kleist said. “Sometimes, there are special financing programs they may not be aware of.”
Allison Tennyson faced several major hurdles to purchasing her first home with her partner, including student debt and unpaid bills that went to debt collection as Allison worked three jobs to keep up. She said her financial situation was a source of stress and shame.
“Managing my finances felt like an impossible, uphill climb — that I was never going to pay off my bills, never have any savings and never buy a home,” Tennyson said. “My financial counselor made my situation feel less scary. He made me feel less ashamed and alone about it, that it was manageable and that I could do this.”
Tennyson and her counselor reviewed her budget and developed a plan to improve her credit score and pay off her bills that were currently in collections. Her counselor also encouraged her to sign up for a federal program that could forgive a significant portion of her student loan debt after her repayment period.
With her debt now manageable, Tennyson and her partner were able to save enough to cover the closing costs of a home in Minneapolis, where the couple now lives.
“So much of their success came down to hard work and persistence,” Kleist said. “They now have the tools, skills and confidence to maintain control of their finances and manage their ongoing housing costs.”