THDA Downpayment Assistance helps new Tennesseans find home

For Luz Escobar and her family, owning a home is more than just having a place to live or a having a roof over their heads, it’s about putting down roots.

Luz, her husband – Raymundo – and their son emigrated from Mexico to the United States, living first in California before moving in early 2022 to Oak Ridge in East Tennessee.

“It was too expensive to live in California,” Escobar said. “We could not afford to buy a house and rent was too high. We had family here in Tennessee so we decided to move.”

Escobar and her family, who are documented immigrants, moved, found jobs and eventually began to rent. Once in Tennessee, they learned they were able to actually afford a home ownership instead of just renting due to the more reasonable living costs.

Despite not speaking English, Escobar found out about a mortgage broker with Mortgage Investors Group in Oak Ridge that worked with members of the local Hispanic community who were looking to become homebuyers. It was then they learned about MIG’s Hipotecasa Division, which provides services to Spanish-speaking families.

It was through Hipotecasa that Escobar met Jesus Gonzales and learned about receiving downpayment assistance through Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s Great Choice Mortgage Program.

“In the Hispanic community, word of mouth is very important,” said Gonzales, a former high school Spanish teacher. “They found out about us, and felt comfortable because there was no language barrier. We were also able to get the best loan for them, which in this case was THDA’s Great Choice, because of the downpayment assistance it provides.”

The Escobar family could afford to pay the mortgage, Gonzales said, but becoming homeowners themselves would have been out of reach without the downpayment assistance.

With the downpayment from THDA, Escobar said her family was able to actual keep the savings they had built up for their home for future repairs or unexpected expenses instead of using it all to cover closing costs and the downpayment.

“It was a great help,” Escobar said. “Now we have our home and we are in a good place.”

Photo of Luz Escobar and Jesus Gonzalez by Wes Bunch.