Angela’s Journey with Habitat’s Advancing Black Homeownership Program
“I feel like I’m finally living!” Angela Gladney exclaims, summing up all the emotions of becoming a homeowner—a goal decades in the making. And Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity was with her through all the ups and downs, nerves and questions, steps forward and steps back.
Angela was one of the first participants in Twin Cities Habitat’s brand-new Advancing Black Homeownership Program. This innovative program was co-designed by and for foundational Black households—those who are descendants of slavery in the U.S. and have been the primary targets of racial discrimination in housing for generations. It offers unique peer support and coaching, more flexible mortgage criteria, and additional financial resources.
It was just what Angela needed to achieve her lifelong dream of owning a home.
Angela outside the front door of the home she bought with Habitat.
“My mom was a single parent, and when I was born she had just purchased a home,” Angela remembers. “Growing up, watching her go to work and maintaining and just being able to live in a home—I knew that that is something that I always wanted to do.”
But Angela had a long journey to homeownership. She moved from Chicago to the Twin Cities with her three young sons almost twenty years ago. First they lived in a shelter, and then in apartments that never had enough space. And Angela had health issues to contend with—she is legally blind, and one of her sons is disabled.
“This whole process of moving here and then transitioning, finding employment and being sustainable has just been a journey in itself.”
Angela and her three sons are very close. And Angela loves time with her grandkids!
Angela had applied for a mortgage with a big bank back in 2016. But her approved loan amount was too low and the interest rate was too high. Worse, there was no education or explanation about what she could do to get in a better position.
“I’m blind already, so it’s like a blind person just walking blind through the process and just trying to figure it out,” Angela laughs.
But Angela was determined, so she got to work on her own. She paid off her credit cards and worked on her credit score. In 2018, at the insistence of a family member who bought a Habitat home in Missouri, she applied to Twin Cities Habitat and was accepted.
“But I’m a worrier!” Angela says. “So I never went through the whole process. I was afraid I didn’t have all the tools and resources, so I kept pushing it and pushing it back.”
A few more years went by, but Angela kept her dream of homeownership alive. She built up her savings. She went from renting an apartment to renting a house, and became even more determined to buy a home of her own. She re-applied for Habitat. This time, she qualified for the Advancing Black Homeownership Program. The dedicated coaching, cohort support, and homeownership education were exactly what she needed to achieve her dream.
“I learned that I was not the only one who had these fears! I wasn’t the only one that had the barriers—I didn’t even really understand that there are barriers to this whole process.”
“She was great. She was inspirational. When I had hesitations, when I had doubts, she kept with me.”
As her closing date drew nearer, Angela’s nerves picked up. But every time she had doubts, someone at Habitat was there to carefully answer all her questions. Finally, after many years of hard work, Angela was ready to become a homeowner.
“OK, so the day comes. And you’re signing this, signing that, just sign sign sign sign. So after everything was over, [my loan officer] Maureen was like OK, it’s official. She hands me the keys. And then Maureen’s like ‘An anonymous person gave us a gift they wanted you to have.’ And she hands me a handmade quilt. And that’s when I knew: this is real! And I broke down. Oh my goodness, this is it!”
Angela at her home closing with her keys and the gifted quilt. Angela still uses the quilt every night!
It's only been a couple of months in her new home. But already, Angela can feel the transformation of becoming a homeowner. She’s excited to bring her tight-knit family together for holidays this summer at her home, and to have her out-of-state family visit. And now she has a way to build wealth and pass that down to her children.
“I am absolutely living the American dream,” Angela shares. “And I am just truly so grateful to Habitat for allowing me to go through the process and having them guide me to achieve that goal. It took me a while to get to the mountaintop, but I finally did get there. And now, I’m finally living!”