A Path to Homeownership And Financial Stability

Meet Nancy Gilman, Our Homeownership Director, a Lifelong Vermonter and Advocate for Homeownership

My name is Nancy Gilman and I have been with NeighborWorks of Western Vermont for thirteen years now, transitioning from receptionist to the newly appointed Director of the Homeownership Center.

I came from a very large family with seven sisters and eight brothers. Growing up for some of us was not easy, and for some it was devastating.

I left home at a young age after having my first child and getting married. By the time I started working for NeighborWorks I had five children and had always worked at low paying dead end jobs. I had to work two jobs at any given time just to support my children.

Homeownership and Financial Stabiility

Nancy’s children and grandchildren in Rutland, VT.

Vermont Services Supporting Job Training

I am thankful every day for the services that Vermont provides to low-income families because without two of those services I would not be where I am today. The first service was the Housing Authority in Rutland. Without the subsidized housing, while I was trying to improve my skills to obtain a career, I would not have been able to focus on my continued education and job training skills.

The second service I was able to access was the “getting ready to work program.” This program helps people build job skills by placing them in a volunteer setting, providing access to continued education, and helping them to build their resumes.

Through this program, I was assigned a job coach to find volunteer work in the area that interested me. While I was working on my volunteer term my coach was looking for available jobs in the area of interest and provided me with the contact information for NeighborWorks.

Nancy Joins NeighborWorks of Western Vermont

I was to work at NWWVT for six months as an administrative assistant being paid through the Department of Employment and Training. At the end of six months, if the employer liked my work, they would take me on their payroll. My six months ended in June of 2003 and I am still here.

I decided to stay at NeighborWorks because I believed in their mission of creating and maintaining affordable housing for families and individuals.

As a single mother of five children who struggled financially I became a strong believer that homeownership is “one” of the keys to building financial wealth for my family; this is why the first certification I received was for foreclosure prevention counseling. I wanted to help people who were struggling to keep their homes find an alternative to foreclosure.

Once I started counseling homeowners it became clear that there are many aspects that affect our financial well being and that homeownership may not be right for everyone. Depending on a person or a family’s values, spending habits, and goals in life, they may decide to stay a renter. Most people get enough information at the NWWVT homebuyer education workshops to make this decision for themselves.

With the support of NWWVT and NeighborWorks America, I became certified in credit counseling, financial health counseling, and pre and post -purchase counseling so that I can help people look at the big picture and make informed decisions based on their individual or family needs.

I am proud to say that I am now also the new Homeownership Director, but no matter what role I am playing, my goal is to make sure that the customers of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont have the knowledge, education, and tools to meet whatever financial goals they may have, even if it is not homeownership.

Getting Started with Homeownership

I would encourage anyone who really wants to become a homeowner to seek help and try for it. One of the first things I did when I wanted to buy a home was to take the Financial Literacy Class (now offered as the Financial Capabilities class).  Through that program, I was able to see my credit report and understand the information that was being reported and how to address it. It was the first time I had ever seen my credit report.

When we work with someone who has a goal of homeownership and they discover that credit is preventing them from qualifying for a loan, we give them an action plan that addresses their specific credit issues and ways to solve them.

Buying a home is a complicated process and it can be stressful. When I bought my first home I met with a lender and was not aware of the out-of-pocket costs I would have to pay before closing. When you take a class and meet with a housing counselor before you begin the buying process you are prepared for those expenses and there are fewer surprises and less stress.

Homeownership and financial stability is not an overnight thing but you can accomplish it if you are motivated and you stay focused.

Homeownership and Financial Stability through Education

I’ve always felt that the Financial Capabilities Class is beneficial for everyone no matter what their financial goal is. This class was my first step and is a great first step for anyone to take. You are better prepared to meet any financial goal if you take the Financial Capabilities class. It is currently only offered online because of low attendance but I encourage people to take the online class and then to meet with me in person for financial coaching so you can get a personalized action plan to  address your own specific challenges .

Even if you think it’s out of reach for you, I encourage anyone to contact us to become educated and get assistance. The process of buying a home is complicated and that’s why it’s helpful to meet with someone who can help you navigate the process and provide answers.

One of the challenges that I’ve seen a lot of people face recently is student loan debt. Some people don’t think buying a home is possible because of the amount of debt that they are carrying. However, lenders are starting to view student loans differently and loosening the rules slightly. In the future, there should be more hope and opportunity for people with high student loan debt if they want to purchase a house.

This is just one example of what you can learn through a class and homeownership counseling. We are here to help you make informed decisions by providing information and guidance specific to you.

Are you interested in starting your pat to homeownership and financial stability? Please contact us online or give me a call at 802-438-2303. We can help you!

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