From public housing to a home of her own
Go ahead, ask Mandy Bartley what she loves about her new manufactured home. You’ll be a while.
She loves the quiet in her corner of Exeter River MHP Cooperative.
She loves having a mud room and built-in microwave.
She loves having a yard big enough for a deck and a shed.
She loves it that her daughter, Zoe, 9, has her own bedroom and bathroom.
She loves living in a resident-owned community.
Above all, she loves the freedom. Freedom to paint a chalkboard wall, to have lazy cats and a rambunctious puppy. Freedom to not ask permission.
“I can do whatever I want to it, and it just feels so good,” she says.
Rebuilding a life
Owning a home was unthinkable 10 years ago. Mandy was a 20-year-old single mom, living in public housing and rocking her baby to a chorus of police sirens and loud voices. Her credit was wrecked by bad teenage choices.
That was then. “In the past 10 years my life has gone from awful to ‘Wow, I did it,’ ” she says.
That journey took a lot of hard work. Mandy got a good job with an insurance company, and worked just as hard at homebuyer and budgeting classes through NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire. She rebuilt her credit with a high-interest car loan and a low-limit store credit card, paying the balance after every purchase.
Determined to buy a home for herself and Zoe, Mandy enrolled in a matched savings program, and qualified for a Welcome Home Loan. She found an open lot in the Exeter River MHP Cooperative, just four minutes down the road from her parents.
Finding the house she wanted was the easy part. Installing her new home took longer than anticipated. Though frustrated by the delay, Mandy surprised even herself with her ability to research, advocate, and solve problems.
It was exhausting, she says, but worth it. “I love my house. I’m so grateful for people who have been helpful through all this.”
Among them are the Community Loan Fund’s Welcome Home Loan team, who, Mandy says, showed that they cared and did everything they could to get her into her home. “That’s reassuring,” she said.
This story originally appeared in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s 2014 annual report.