“I love it.”
Ask Jasmyn Ramsey anything about her house – even paying the mortgage – and it’s the response she shares. That’s because just two years ago, Ramsey only dreamed of owning a home.
Then, she found hope.
Specifically, HOPE of Evansville, a nonprofit helping families across eight southwest Indiana counties achieve their dreams of homeownership.
“I didn’t know where to go, where to start,” said Ramsey, who works as a hospital surgery scheduler. “I called to get an application after learning about HOPE of Evansville online. Everything went a lot quicker and was easier than I expected. It was a step-by-step process.”
Guiding people like Ramsey through the process of becoming first-time homeowners is what HOPE of Evansville has been doing for 50-plus years. The organization serves more than 400 families annually through free homebuyer education focusing on credit, budgeting and more.
The program is called Fair Shot. And that’s exactly what it’s providing. Nearly one-third of clients are in the low- or moderate-income range.
“Becoming a homeowner is one of the most overwhelming processes a person goes through, and it’s also one of the most rewarding,” said Nikki Waller, director of relational and financial development for HOPE of Evansville. “Many of our clients are first-generation homeowners. Our program gives people that ‘hand up’ they need to be ready to buy a home. That includes assistance from our housing counselors in focusing on specific items like credit scores, an important factor related to a client’s ability to become a homeowner. We’re proud that our team can provide these programs and services to our clients at no charge thanks to the support of donations.”
Regions Bank has been working with HOPE of Evansville for the past two years, recently donating $5,000 to support the agency’s efforts.
HOPE is making an investment in the lives of others – and that strengthens and inspires the surrounding community.
Nicole Woodson, community development manager for Regions Bank in Indiana
“Financial education and community support can accomplish a lot of great things – but helping people achieve homeownership is one of the most meaningful,” said Nicole Woodson, community development manager for Regions Bank in Indiana. “Think about what happens inside a home. It’s where you and the people closest to you come together and build your future. HOPE is making an investment in the lives of others – and that strengthens and inspires the surrounding community. Regions is honored to support that investment.”
Ramsey and others who complete the Fair Shot program move on to a more in-depth coaching program that explores each person’s unique financial circumstances and creates an action plan for improvement. Program members receive financial incentives to help them pay rent, utility bills or reduce their debt following their successful completion of the second program.
Beyond the financial advice and assistance, Ramsey also received valuable insights about residential property perks – and potential pitfalls – during her homebuyer classes.
“I could’ve gotten myself into a situation I shouldn’t have,” said Ramsey, recalling some of the places she looked at during the homebuying process. “The HOPE of Evansville team taught me everything to look for. They taught me things I wouldn’t have known. Without them, I would’ve been totally lost. It’s nice to have somebody backing you up.”
And HOPE of Evansville’s back-up support didn’t end there.
HOPE also provided Ramsey with additional financial assistance, covering the full down payment for the home.
To qualify, she must stay in her house and remain current on the payments for five years. Ramsey is grateful to do her part.
“The down payment support helped a lot,” she said. “Saying that I have a house and paying the mortgage is my favorite part. It’s so much better than paying rent. It’s paying toward something that is entirely yours.”
Today, Ramsey beams whenever she talks about what is hers – a three-story, three-bedroom home offering her family of four plenty of space to enjoy. That includes a large backyard where her 7-year-old daughter, Niylah, plays now and 1-month-old son, Nas, will in the future.
Ramsey has been adding her own special touches.
“I started off with nothing, but it’s amazing now,” said Ramsey. “It’s been so much fun decorating it the way I want. I’ve put up pictures everywhere.”
Beyond the house itself, Nicole Woodson notes there are lasting benefits that programs like Fair Shot create.
“This is about more than just homeownership for those who’ve completed the program; it’s about showing more people that homeownership is within reach for them, too,” she said.
There are still days when Ramsey is surprised by how far she has come.
“They definitely gave me hope,” said Ramsey. “They help average people like me. I didn’t think I’d be able to own a house, but I learned it’s possible. With a little help from the community and organizations like HOPE of Evansville, anything is possible.”
The support she found helped Ramsey do so much more than fill a house with pictures and furniture. It’s empowered her to make that house a home – while accomplishing her dream.