Affordable housing East Liberty_Enright Court Affordable Housing

Elaine Fleming has been an East End resident all her life. Always a renter, she dreamed of having a house of her own one day. When she got in touch with us last summer, she learned about the opportunities available to her to make that dream a reality, and she was on her way. Elaine closed on her home in East Liberty’s Enright Court on May 15th. We took a moment afterwards to catch up with her about her path to homeownership with ELDI and how she’s feeling now that she’s in her new place.

Read on for our Q&A with Elaine.

How did you first get involved with ELDI?

I got in touch with ELDI last year during the Enright Court Blitz Build day. I was living in Enright Court at the time and met Mary Hester (ELDI’s affordable homeownership specialist) there. She told me all about the renovations and improvements they were making to the community. That’s when I asked about a four-bedroom home I had spotted in the neighborhood. She took down all of my information and encouraged me to get involved with Circles.

One of the cool things was that during the Blitz Build, they were letting kids go in and clean out some of the houses, and my son actually helped clean out the house we bought, before I even knew I was going to buy it.

How did you start preparing for homeownership?

I worked briefly with Circles and was encouraged to participate in homeownership courses offered by the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Credit building and maintaining employment was important, and the homeowner’s course taught me about all kinds of things—conventional vs fixed loans, making sure your house is waterproof, steps to take to improve your credit, etc. You go in there thinking you’re prepared but then you learn about the smallest thing that can mess you up, things you probably would have never even thought of.

From the time you started the process with ELDI, how long did it take until you got into your house?

Less than a year. I got pre-approved in July of 2019, and I followed Mary Hester’s lead after that. It was a nice process. Whenever I needed help, I was able to contact someone via email, call, or text. I was working a lot at the time, and they helped me with a lot of the stuff. It was very convenient.

Enright Court Affordable Housing_East Liberty affordable housing
Elaine’s new home in Enright Court.

How does it feel now that you’re in your new home?

It’s so great. It’s still so surreal to me, and I still can’t believe I did it. I’m a single mother of four kids, and they are all really happy. I’m glad I’m able to show my kids that you can do this as a single parent.

“I’m a single mother of four kids, and they are all really happy. I’m glad I’m able to show my kids that you can do this as a single parent.”

What do you think of the neighborhood?

I’ve lived in Larimer and around all my life, and I’m comfortable here. I played over here as a kid, and I have friends that live over here. The area is really quiet, and everyone seems friendly. The kids get to run around, and there are enough kids for them to play with. The schools are convenient too. One of my sons goes to Lincoln, another goes to Westinghouse, and my daughter goes to Pittsburgh Obama.

What do you think about East Liberty’s revitalization?

I’m excited to see it all come together. I really am. I’m excited about the progress and the way things are moving.

What has been the most rewarding part of this process?

Watching the transition of the house. ELDI gutted it out and redid everything. I got to go to Home Depot and pick out my flooring, the color of my walls, my paint—I got to fix my house how I wanted it. But there was the whole adrenaline part to it too. You fix it up and you’re like, okay, this is mine, but then you’re still going through the banking process. It was a roller coaster ride, but Mary always contacted me. She said, “You know, Elaine, I understand the process and don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine. Just make sure you turn in whatever you need to turn in.” She was there to coach me through it. I really had to put my faith in strangers, but they all led me the right way, and I really appreciate that.

Also hear from Mary Hester on her experience working with Elaine:

“I met Elaine Fleming in the summer of 2019 during the DreamBuilders’ Blitz Build week in Enright Court. She was an Enright Court tenant then and conveyed her desire to become a homeowner. We soon connected and she was eager and excited about her path to homeownership. Her intention was always to stay and purchase right there in the Court. This is where she had been raising her children and her goal was to have a stake in the community, build wealth, and own her own home. Elaine worked gracefully through the home rehab process, lending process, and all during a global pandemic! She is the ideal buyer with patience and tenacity.”

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