“I had a contract fall through on another house, and I was devastated,” Lolita shares, thinking back to her experiences more than a decade ago.
Originally from Detroit, Lolita moved to Atlanta from New York. She is mom to two daughters who are now adults, but she remembers the stress of that season when they were young and their housing plan fell apart.
Lolita was working at the Ritz Carlton, and she and her girls had been able to live temporarily in some of their properties. But they were looking for something more stable. “My church was a huge support,” Lolita says. Her pastor, Dr. Bishop Kent Branch of Pilgrim Cathedral of Atlanta, suggested Lolita consider the Ruth and Naomi house, a ministry for women and children needing transitional housing.
It was not what Lolita had expected. “I hadn’t had a roommate since college,” she says. “But the experience broke down some barriers for me that helped me to move forward.”
Her friend Stephanie worked for Charis Community Housing, a ministry of FCS. She approached Lolita and said she might qualify to purchase a Charis home.
Sure enough, Lolita pursued Charis and moved into her own home ten years ago. “We’ve painted the walls in that house. We’ve had graduations there. Both my girls are now in college. It feels like yesterday this all happened.”
She credits her home with creating normalcy and stability in her family’s life. She was also surprised when her new home ended up being larger than the original house she had tried to purchase. She feels God had a plan all along.
Lolita also expresses gratitude for the way Charis and FCS have worked with her over the years. She has appreciated the non-traditional financing that has no interest. And she Charis’ flexibility at times has been a benefit as she is non-traditionally employed. “Because Charis understands people as individuals and not addresses, they worked with me to accommodated my contract payments.”
As a ten-year resident in the neighborhood, Lolita has seen the ongoing influence of Charis in South Atlanta. “Charis has been instrumental in creating diversity,” Lolita says. From her years living in New York, she says she appreciates the growing multicultural presence in the community.
She has also translated her own experiences into her current work as a tenant placement specialist with HUD (Housing and Urban Development). “I work with folks in desperate situations,” she says. “I understand their struggles and the discipline required to own a home.” She believes her experience helps her serve her clients with compassion and insight.