Homeownership: A Story of Community Collaboration
By Lynda Charles | Vice President | Housing Services Community Partners of South Florida
On behalf of the entire staff on Community Partners of South Florida (CPSFL), I’d like to congratulate Ms. Tranekqua Davis-Thomas on the purchase of her new home. The story behind her exciting journey as a first-time homeowner is one of vision, perseverance, and partnership.
“I have been working towards homeownership since my oldest son, who’s now 25, was three years old. There have been so many setbacks along the way. Yet, those setbacks set me up with true grit and determination to continue to press through,” says Davis-Thomas.
We collaborated with Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Sustainability, Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County, Riviera Beach Community Development Corporation, and Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. Our local lending partner was FineMark National Bank and Trust.
Davis-Thomas says she first learned about CPSFL’s services years ago. “I was talking with a family member, and they stated there was an organization on Blue Heron Boulevard and Congress Avenue that helped people get a home. I asked the name so I could look into the organization, and here I am,” she says.
We assisted Davis-Thomas in several ways. First, CPSFL partnered with the Riviera Beach Community Development Corporation to offer the Riviera Beach Homebuyers’ Club.
Davis-Thomas says the Homebuyers’ Club classes were educational. “The staff works hard to make it rewarding and entertaining, with real-life examples along with home tours on the shuttle bus. It was very exciting to see what the city is doing in terms of rebuilding.”
“Riviera Beach Community Development Corporation (RBCDC) believes that an educated homebuyer will be a successful homebuyer. We are so pleased to sponsor the Riviera Beach Homebuyers’ Club that has provided needed resources to navigate the path to homeownership,” says RBCDC executive director Annetta Jenkins, adding her congratulations.
The Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Sustainability donated the land that the Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County (CLT of PBC) developed into the new Davis Landings West subdivision. Next, CLT of PBC sold the home directly to Davis-Thomas.
“We met Tranekqua when she came to our agency about an available home in Davis Landings West. As an agency that creates permanently affordable homeownership opportunities, we were able to provide a quality home plus have the experience working together with other nonprofit agencies and government to make her dream a reality,” says Christina Hewitt, housing manager for CLT of PBC who’s happy Tranekqua is part of its family of homeowners.
Davis-Thomas says the process taught her to be patient, consistent, diligent, and not give up. “I could go on and on. As Christina says, ‘No problem, it is all about solving the issue and working past it.’ Keeping that in mind, anything can be solved,” she says.
Ludie Celucien is one of our CPSFL financial coaches who has had the great pleasure of working with Tranekqua since a friend referred her to our organization in January 2017. As a Housing of Urban Development (HUD) Certified Counseling Agency, we provided several resources.
Through CPSFL’s Individual Development Account (IDA) Program, we could secure matched savings for her as a first-time homebuyer. We also helped to match her with a new lender, FineMark National Bank and Trust of Palm Beach, at just the right time.
“The staff at Community Partners of South Florida is willing, helpful, informative, and supportive. I had a few rough moments during my first deal where the bank loan fell through. I needed a new lender ASAP and immediately got on a conference call with Ludie and a new lender as we started working through the situation,” says Davis-Thomas.
The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County provided pro-bono legal assistance throughout the home buying and closing process. Over 2500 private attorneys donate their time and talent through Legal Aid to assist clients just like Davis-Thomas.
Tranekqua finally closed on her beautiful new home on May 17, 2021. She told me that being a first-time homeowner feels amazing and surreal. Her advice to others looking to purchase a home in Palm Beach County is never to give up on your dream.
Scott Hansel, chief executive officer of Community Partners of South Florida, says stories like this emphasize the complexity of Palm Beach County housing issues. “Coordinated teamwork is required to make positive outcomes like this happen. More than just a financial process, assisting first-time homebuyers is about fostering social connections and helping people understand what exact resources are available and how to access each part of the network.”
Davis-Thomas is grateful. “If it seems a bit tiresome and bothersome every time you are asked to do something, just do it and be consistent with it! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone I have encountered and worked with throughout this process,” she says.