Dreams to Reality: Homeownership

Stephanie’s Story

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.

One of our services that we are most passionate about is providing families with the resources they need to purchase a home. As many of our clients will tell you, buying a home takes patience, resilience and determination. When the system is stacked against you, it’s hard to know where to start – and we’re here to make it a little easier.

This story comes from Stephanie Etienne, who set a goal, juggled her responsibilities, and is now a homeowner.


Stephanie was born in Haiti. In 2001, her uncle sponsored her and her whole family, allowing them to move to the United States. Now, Stephanie is a nurse at the VA Medical Center, and will soon graduate from her Nurse Practitioner program.

“For a long time, my goal has been to buy a home before I graduate.”

Stephanie is a single mother, and has always wanted to own a home for herself and her daughter. Recently, Stephanie was chatting with a coworker who had just purchased a house. This coworker mentioned Urban Edge’s First Time Homebuyer program and recommended Junie Celestin, our Foreclosure Prevention Counselor.

Stephanie got right to work. She took our First Time Homebuyer course in July of 2022, and then took our Credit Counseling Boot Camp in August of 2022. Not only did she take these courses, but she also enrolled in our Matched Savings program.

“I worked with Junie, who helped me figure out the best payment plan for my school loans. That was so helpful. She was efficient and knowledgeable. Whenever she didn’t know the answer to a question, she would immediately find out and let me know.”

Stephanie was aiming to be a homeowner by May 2023, when she was set to graduate. She filed for pre-approval with Eastern Bank in September of 2022. She saved her money, and even moved in with her parents to cut her living expenses.

Stephanie initially found a house in Hyde Park that she was excited about. But she was quickly outbid. Disappointed but not discouraged, she kept looking. Then, she stumbled upon a place in Lynn. Although Lynn was a bit further than her initial range, this home was newly renovated, quiet, and perfect in all other aspects.

“This time when I put in an offer, I was much more aggressive. I insisted on an immediate follow up.”

Right around this time, Stephanie switched her bank to Citizens. “My loan officer with Citizens was very committed to help me achieve my goal of becoming a homeowner.” With Citizens, she got a pre-approval right away.

The underwriting process was stressful for Stephanie. “There were a million things they needed from me. They would ask for one thing, and then ten more things… it was nonstop! At this time, I was also in clinical which was already overwhelming.”

Finally, with some help from Urban Edge’s Last Mile Fund (a fund dedicated to helping new homeowners with last minute closing costs), Stephanie was able to close on her home a couple of months before graduation.

“Working with Junie and the counselors at Urban Edge was so valuable. They were always reachable, and proactive about finding answers.”

“I’m so proud to have reached my goal within my timeline. It wasn’t easy, but I had a goal and I was dedicated. The icing on the cake was seeing my daughter’s excitement!”

Junie is proud to have worked with someone as resilient and inspiring as Stephanie. “You did it – and you were able to do all of this in front of your daughter! She got to watch you achieve this, and she got to see what determination looks like. That’s amazing. That will stay with her forever.”

To other prospective homebuyers, Stephanie says: “Ask for help! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think the answer will be no. That’s the best advice I can give. If you’re not sure, ask. That’s how I got the Last Mile Fund, and that’s how I got my home.”