DAYTON — Julie Stevenson is no stranger to hardship or adversity.
“The last four or five years has been a bit of a struggle,” she said. “I just purchased the house in '15, and then was diagnosed with breast cancer in '16. So I’ve spent the past four years working more hours than I probably should and trying to heal at the same time so I wouldn’t lose my house.”
After years of treatment, Julie beat breast cancer. But just as soon as she was starting to recover financially, here comes another wave of trouble.
“I just start to see a little bit of daylight, then the COVID hit,” she said. “It’s just been a rough ride.”
With money being tight, Julie was in jeopardy of losing something very sentimental to her — her home. And the thought of moving in the middle of the pandemic is something she wanted to avoid at all cost.
“There’s just too much going on with this pandemic and having to stay six feet away from people and try to hunt for a place to live,” Stevenson said. “I’ve got a little bit of family, but nobody that I would be able to stay with.”
But thankfully for Julie, help was available.
In Montgomery County, people struggling to pay their mortgage can apply for assistance through the HomeOwnership Center’s Mortgage Assistance Program if they have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Application Processor Kelly Lehman said $5 million in CARES act relief funds were awarded to help with mortgage assistance in the Dayton area.
“Any loss of income in a household due to COVID, loss of hours, loss of job, illness that caused people to not be able to pay their mortgages and become delinquent,” Lehman said. “We’ve given away a million dollars to 184 families so far, there’s $4 million left, it’s here until December the 31st.”
Administrative Coordinator Marva Williams-Parker said people who are experiencing hardship shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help.
“I’ve always been taught that pride comes before fall, so don’t let your pride leave you homeless,” Williams-Parker said.
And she said that the program is set up to help all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“African-American, Hispanic, Asian, whatever, we want to help you,” Williams-Parker said. “We have the money. We have the funds. We have the resources to do so. So if you are a person that has a mortgage, don’t let anything stop you from coming in. Our desire is to help you.”
Lehman said it’s important for people in Dayton to know they aren’t alone in the struggle they are facing.
“We have such grit and we rise to the challenge, well, this time let somebody help,” Lehman said.
It’s help that Stevenson will forever be grateful for.
“You can only do so much on your own, and after a certain point, like after the four or five years that I’ve had, I just needed some help,” Stevenson said. “And I would encourage anyone who’s struggling the same way I am to please apply. Please apply because it wasn’t a hard process. I was so grateful. I got tears in my eyes when they say I was approved.”
To qualify for the Mortgage Assistance Program you have to meet some specific criteria, which is listed on the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton’s website.