“I don’t want to tell him what to do; I want to show him what to do. Anything that I expect him to want out of life, I have to do the same thing.”
That’s how Kim, a CHT homeowner in Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood, describes her homeownership experience: it’s all about her 18 year old son, Keon. Kim grew up in what she describes as “adverse circumstances,” and she explains that she was “the girl who could have gone in any direction.” In fact, she never imagined she would own a home, and coming from her family’s circumstances, she says she has had to “break myths” about what was possible in order to end up where she is today.
It was through her son that Kim first learned about CHT in 2019. She drove a friend of his from summer camp home one day, and she was surprised to see where the family lived. She asked the child’s mother about their home, and when she learned that it was a CHT home, she applied to the program that day. Because she had all her paperwork in order and had diligently saved, built her credit, and progressed in her career, Kim was able to close on her home three months later to the day.
Kim is the full time charge specialist for UNC Healthcare’s operating rooms, but she started working at the hospital in 2015 as a lower-level employee. She finished her bachelor’s degree online while she worked full time, and she is grateful that her position in her career means she has had no interruption to her employment because of the pandemic. Her son Keon, too, has continued successfully in school online and has been working at an internship in HVAC, which is what he plans to pursue when he graduates this spring. Thanks to Kim’s determination and investment in him and the support of the teachers at his school, Phoenix Academy, even in spite of his learning differences, Keon has not experienced any learning disruptions — to the contrary, the one-on-one instruction he has received online has helped him be more successful than ever. And Kim has not wasted any time teaching him about homeownership. “I promise you that if he decides to stay in this area, his first time out of the house will be in a Community Home Trust home!”
One of the most important things about her CHT home for Kim is her neighborhood. In Northside, she shares, “my son can be in this community as a black kid with dreds and I don’t feel like I have to worry every time he leaves the house. He sees families around here that I encourage him to become. It’s teaching my son family.” Even her next door neighbors who don’t speak much English have become her friends, and Kim says they speak to each other through food. Kim knows that her most important job as a mother is to help her son become emotionally and mentally healthy, and the neighborhood she is raising him in is just right for that.
Kim also explains that owning her CHT home has allowed her to save money. Even once she has paid her utilities and other bills she didn’t have as a renter, she is spending significantly less on housing now than she did before when she was renting. This means she is saving money every month, and she chooses to invest that money in bettering herself, continuing to prepare for even bigger things.
CHT meets people where they are, says Kim, and gives people like her an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have had. For Kim, this home is a stepping stone, and her success in purchasing and owning her first home has just given her “a hunger to go bigger.” But no matter where she ends up, Kim says, she will always contribute to and be a part of CHT. “The mission and the purpose are so important because there are other women like me. They need someone to tell them that they can do it because they themselves did it. Literally, I came from nothing — if I can do it, so can you.”