For many minority and low income families, owning a home is a dream that always seems just beyond reach.

In fact, there are just 10 steps to home ownership in a new program being touted as a national model. In the 1st Congressional District, renters are learning the basics of how to buy and maintain their first home.

Apartment life is all Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have known in the 30 years they’ve been married.

“Who’s money is this? It’s the largest amount of money you’re going to spend in a lifetime,” says Jean Weber, who teaches a class on home ownership.

In Bobby Rush’s 1st Congressional District, folks are finding themselves back in the classroom. Within 10 weeks, these renters are learning how to become homeowners.

“They never thought they could possibly get into a home and so we wanna expand their horizons. Raise their consciousness. We want them to get excited about it because we believe we can put them in a home,” says Cong. Rush.

Rush has taken an initiative developed by the Congressional Black Caucus and turned it into something that’s working beyond all expectations.

“Opportunities are sitting right there with them because the banks, the mortgage companies, the real estate professionals, all of them are in class,” Cong. Rush says.

Which gives renters the ability to ask questions of the lenders and agents who can help take it out of the classroom and into the neighborhood.

“Education is the first key in home ownership. An intelligent consumer, an aware consumer makes a much easier buyer,” says Gloria King-Wright, Countrywide Home Loans.

The 10 week renter-to-buyer classes come at a time when interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in nearly 55 years, giving renters a one-time window of opportunity to buy a home and pay the same or even less for their mortgage than they’ve been paying in rent.

“That’s what’s supposed to happen when you do community development. You’re supposed to move people from their current situation and help them participate in what we call the market economy,” says Vincent J. Barnes, Englewood Community Development Corporation.

The program expects to turn 75 renters into home buyers before the end of the year.

“To see people who never thought that they could own a home. See them get excited about it, get empowered about it, because they have information,” Cong. Rush says.

“This is an opportunity to ensure that the community is developed. That it’s not developed around you, it’s developed with you,” Barnes says.

And for Mr. and Mrs. Roberts the American dream has never been more real.

The success of this first 10-week program has created such a demand that the rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation has created several other 10-week programs just like it.


Countrywide Home Loans: call toll free at 1 (866) 245-WOW1 or go to

The WOW Initiative

The Rebirth of Englewood

Contacting your congressman

If you live in Congressman Bobby Rush’s district in Chicago, call Stephanie Harris at 773/918-7217. Elsewhere, call Bonnie Boards toll free at 1 (877) 288-8395 x88885.

Published: Jun 19, 2003