From Student Loan Debt to HomeOwnership Dreams

It may come as no surprise that student debt is one of the greatest financial burdens Americans face today. In California alone, residents owe approximately $131.2 billion in student loan debt.

For Elizabeth Lopez (27), a dental assistant and mother of two young girls, the weight of this burden was far too real. Student loans had consumed her entirely to the point where the IRS was withholding her tax returns.

“My living situation at the time didn’t allow me to pay down my student loans,” said Elizabeth. “I had to focus on providing for my daughter at that time, it was hard.”

Early on, Elizabeth dreamed of one day owning her own home and knew that sooner or later she would have to seek help for her situation. So back in early 2018, in an effort to get more information on homeownership opportunities, a quick internet search led her to Self-Help Enterprises where she was connected to our Gateway Program and HUD-certified Homeownership Counselor, Juantia Franco.

“Elizabeth was very involved in coaching from the start,” said Juanita. She was given an action plan and went straight to work on those items. Elizabeth has had a great deal of success with her credit and debt. She never hesitated to ask questions and communicated all changes with me.”

“I knew it was going to be difficult with my students loans but working with Juanita was a great experience,” said Elizabeth. She was very thorough in how she explained things. Every time we talked, Juantia was always very positive. She maintained that energy the whole time that I was working with her. I followed all of her guidance and little by little I began to see a difference.”

Over the course of 22 months, Elizabeth’s credit score increased from 579 to an impressive 708, an increase of 129 points. She is also now in good standing with all of her student loans and paying them down consistently.

“It’s been a great pleasure working with Elizabeth and seeing her accomplish these goals. I have no doubt that she will succeed as a homeowner in the future,” said Juanita.

Thanks to SHE’s Gateway Program, Elizabeth now looks forward to purchasing a home through SHE’s new Self-Help Homes in Goshen.

Self-Help Enterprises is a HUD certified counseling agency. Through the Gateway program, SHE offers educational and counseling services to equip potential homebuyers with the tools and resources needed to meet their financial and sustainable homeownership goals. The program helps families qualify for reduced rates or mortgage insurance with some lenders, and for USDA, CalHFA, City and County homebuyer assistance programs.

For more information, please visit:

Or call our office at (559) 651-1000 to get connected with a Gateway Counselor today.

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