Impact Week: Jackie’s story
Jackie Hobson drove past Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Service at just the right time.
Her blended, growing family of six lived in a three-bedroom townhouse after making a quick relocation from their rented home on the north side of Kalamazoo. Their landlord was moving back from out of state, giving them short notice and little time to seek out other arrangements.
Editor’s note: Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Service is one of 13 agencies receiving funding under United Way BCKR’s Income/Financial Stability focus area, and working to help families and individuals in our region build financial strength.
“Our family kept growing, and we were running out of room,” she said. “We’ve got kids doubled up, and everyone’s fighting.”
Having tried and failed to achieve her dream of homeownership once before through another community program, Jackie was skeptical that KNHS would be any different. She decided to place the call anyway.
“I found out once I started attending classes at KNHS that there was so much I didn’t know,” she said. “It’s so necessary, so beneficial to take their home ownership classes. You learn how to stay away from predatory lending and land contracts, and people that really try to take advantage of low-income families that don’t have a lot of savings built up to buy a home.”
That was more than 10 years ago. The Hobsons still own the Edison neighborhood home they purchased through KNHS. Several of their children have now grown, attended college and moved away.
“I feel like it creates a sense of home,” Jackie said. “It creates a safe landing place, a place you can always come back to.”
She’s continued her relationship with the organization, most recently working with staff to start a home rehab project. In addition to offering classes and counseling, KNHS also provides low-interest loans for home improvements, allowing families like the Hobsons to invest in their new homes and neighborhoods.
“There’s no way we could get work done on our house without their rehab program,” she said. “It’s a very low-interest loan, so they make it affordable for you.”
Jackie shares her story often, recommending the program to friends, neighbors or strangers in the grocery store, she said, laughing.
“I think the process deters people because they want something immediate,” she said. “You do have to put in a little work, but it’s not difficult work. I wish more people in the community would consider them. I think people spend a lot of money on rent.”
To learn more about KNHS, visit their website.