As a couple in their mid 30s with three young boys, Delmecia and Dwight Wilkins are living the dream, enjoying a beautiful two-story single family home with fenced back yard and trampoline.
Their residence in Obetz since 2015 is constructed on a series of financial and home buying education courses from Homeport they took after experiencing foreclosure and an embarrassingly low credit score.
“All the classes at Homeport collectively pulled us out of a hole. I took every bit of information I learned and share it,” Delmecia said. “There was not one thing that I learned that I did not use.”
In 2006 the Wilkins qualified for a $115,000 three-bedroom, 2 ½ bath, 1,500 square foot home in Canal Winchester to raise their then two small boys. They were approved for a mortgage on her $10 an hour job and Dwight’s part-time job at $11 an hour.
Then rough times struck. A few weeks before closing, they both lost their jobs after missing work to attend the funeral of Dwight’s grandmother in Maryland.
“We reported to the lender at the time that we had lost our jobs and couldn't afford the house,” Delmecia recalled. “They told us that we could be sued for not taking the house. We didn't know any better.”
The deal closed. And though the Wilkins eventually found work, jobs that paid more than what they had previously earned, they never seemed to catch their financial breath, a problem exacerbated by an increase in their mortgage payment.
“We moved out in 2009 once the bank wouldn't work with us. We were not comfortable sitting in the home waiting for the bank to just take our home,” Delmecia said. “We have children so that wasn't something we were ok with doing.”
The Wilkins, the older boys and now an infant son, moved in with Delmecia’s sister and eventually on to apartments.
By 2013, the Wilkins, on the advice of a co-worker, decided to take some personal finance and home buyer courses offered by Homeport.
“I did not want to buy a house. We had been in an apartment a few years,” Delmecia recalled. “But I thought, at the very least, ‘let me educate myself -- unlike last time.’”
The rebound began in 2013 when Delmecia and Dwight took a Credit Counseling course from Homeport’s Housing Advisory Center. They followed it in 2013 with Homeport’s Financial Fitness course.
Finally, in 2014, they took the Homebuyer Education course offered by Homeport.
Dwight said the leap in knowledge was spectacular from the time he first bought a home at age 25. “It was like I was in kindergarten learning how to read again.”
By 2015, the long road back to homeownership was over. They and their boys were living in a new 2,400 square foot home with four bedrooms and 3 ½ half baths.
“I had fellow employees (at Molina Healthcare of Ohio) ask, ‘How did you get the house?’” Dwight said. “It is a long process, but it is worth it. The classes helped educate us, the step by step process of what we should look for.”
It all worked out, said Delmecia, an office manager for Franklin County.
“You can buy another house and be successful,” she said. “That is what I thought after I took the classes.”