Navigating the housing world today is an undertaking. We’re here to help.
In this series, Dreams to Reality, we will hear from several Urban Edge clients who have experienced successes, whether that be in renting, buying, or affordably maintaining their homes. We’re so proud to have worked with these hardworking people, and we are thrilled to be part of the process of making their housing dreams a reality.
We are in the business not only of helping our community buy homes and rent affordable units, but also of helping them keep these homes. As many of our clients will tell you, buying a home takes patience, resilience and determination… and so does holding onto it. Our team works tirelessly to help prevent foreclosures wherever we can. We are proud to provide the extra bit of assistance, the listening ear, or the financial plan that gives someone the support to keep their home.
This story comes from Leslie Murphy, who fought to prevent foreclosure. Through her resilience, will power, and determination, she was able to keep her home.
Leslie Murphy was born and raised in Roxbury. She and her two brothers were raised by their grandparents. She went to high school and college in the area, and then worked in Boston for many years. In 2000 she bought a 4-family home in Roxbury. She was able to maintain her home until 2018 when she had to stop working and her tenants stopped paying their rents. As a single Black woman with a hearing disability, Leslie felt taken advantage of. As a result, she lost one half of her home to foreclosure in 2019 and was in the process of losing the other half when her realtor advised her to call Gercide Luc, Community Programs Associate Director, at Urban Edge.
Leslie was determined to save the other half of her house. With Gercide’s help, Leslie was able to stop the foreclosure. In exchange, the bank insisted on a 12-month repayment plan where the payments unfortunately exceeded her income. To keep her home, Leslie had to come up with thousands of dollars. First, she had to remove her tenant who hadn’t paid her rent for over 2 years. With Urban Edge’s help, Leslie contracted with local attorney Vesper Barnes, who worked miracles and was able to remove the tenant on the first court appearance.
“That was the hardest thing. I fought for myself. It’s hard to ask for help, but when you’re against it, and it’s sink or swim – you had better swim.”
This was just the beginning of Leslie’s long 12-month struggle. With Urban Edge’s assistance in finding good tenants, contributions from Steve Bennet at ESAC Boston, and help from her Reverend, Conley Hughes of Concord Baptist Church, she persevered and made all 12 payments.
The mortgage company then told her that she still had a balloon payment to pay off. By this time Leslie was in a much stronger financial position and again, with help from Urban Edge, she was able to modify this remaining debt and keep her original mortgage which had a 2.0% interest rate.
“If Urban Edge works with a client and involves a bank or another agency, that organization knows that the person is committed, and that Urban Edge is backing them. Urban Edge has great relationships. That’s why it was so important for me to do my part, to do my work, because I want the next person to have that same opportunity.”
Once Leslie’s home was safe from foreclosure, she worked with Maria Holguin, her Financial Capability Officer, to repair the roof, the gutter, and some other utilities in need of an upgrade around the house. “Urban Edge literally saved me. Working with the counselors was incredible. There aren’t enough words to describe it. They held my hand through everything. Their dedication and passion for what they do is second to none. I’ve never seen that much community commitment.”
Leslie’s biggest takeaway from her experience was to reach out for help when you need it. “You have a voice – use it! Let yourself be heard. Urban Edge was like a listening ear for our community.”
Since her experience, Leslie has been reflecting on how challenges shape us, and teach us our own strength. “I’ve learned that adversities are meant to teach you what you’re made of, ignite resilience, and prompt will power and courage.” To other people in similar situations, Leslie says: “There’s no shame in the things that happen to you. There’s no shame in saying them out loud, asking for help, and sharing your story.”