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CHA resident purchases home through ‘Choose To Own’

For National Homeownership Month, CHA celebrates the Choose To Own (CTO) program that has helped 650 residents purchase a home since 2002

After getting married and watching her family grow, Tyra Jackson Williams went back to school and accomplished two goals: becoming a registered nurse at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital and becoming a homeowner, which she did in March, thanks to the Chicago Housing Authority’s Choose to Own (CTO) homeownership program.

June marks National Homeownership Month and CHA is celebrating homebuyers like Jackson Williams, who is one of more than 650 residents who have purchased a house through CTO since the program began in 2002. So far this year, 22 CTO participants have become first-time homebuyers. Last year, there were 42.

National Homeownership Month recognizes the value of homeownership and its positive impact on families, communities and the nation’s economy.

“After they handed me keys, I was like, ‘Yes! It’s finally here,’” said Jackson Williams, a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) homeowner.

The CTO program allows qualified public housing families or those participating in the HCV program to use a portion of their rent payments to accumulate equity and offset a portion of their mortgage – the same way a voucher is used to offset a portion of rent.

“The Choose to Own program is specifically designed to help residents meet their potential and reach financial security,” said CHA CEO Tracey Scott. “Every day, we help residents as they strive to meet their goals of self-sufficiency. We know it takes a lot of determination and perseverance, and Tyra is an example of how CHA’s mission helps residents realize their dreams.”

HUD Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan said: “National Homeownership Month has a special meaning this year as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. HUD remains committed to helping hard-working Americans and has several tools available for those who may be experiencing financial difficulties. I would like to congratulate Ms. Jackson Williams on her accomplishment as a new homeowner and thank her for her dedication as an essential worker.”

Through a variety of community partnerships, participants are provided a comprehensive support network via the 18-year-old CTO program that includes financial assistance, homebuyer education, credit counseling and other services that help the families navigate the process and increase their chances of success as a homeowner.

Jackson Williams started her CTO journey in March 2019 and sees her Austin home as the crowning achievement. She received homebuyer counseling from Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA); legal representation from the LUCHA Law Project and financing from Guaranteed Rate. She also qualified for $7,000 in down payment assistance and closing costs from the Chenoa Fund.

“My friends told me, ‘This is all you’ve been talking about and you did it,’” Jackson Williams said. “It took me some time, but, yes, I did it.”

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