Greensboro, North Carolina
by Lynn Adler and Jim Mayer
Producers of Faith, Hope and Capital
KF: I moved to North Carolina so I could go back to school. But, the
first three years I lived in North Carolina, I couldn't afford health
insurance. You know, I could pay rent, put food on the table, but I
couldn't pay health insurance. So, having a boy, of course I ended up
in the emergency room, stitches here, stitches there, you know, things
like that happen. But, then you end up with medical bills on your credit.
when you started thinking about buying a house you went to the bank?
Yeah. I couldn't get anything anywhere, you know. It's like "Your credit
is ruined for life." "You're a dirtbag." "Don't ask us for anything."
I mean, you know banks get that kind of attitude. They all but laugh
when you come in the door. "Help you?" You know.
a good bet.
KF: No. No. And I wasn't a bad person. I had just had these problems,
but I was working... had been working all along. I just had all of these
doctor bills on my credit, so I thought that was it for me. I was ruined
for life, I'd never have a chance. But then, I read about Self Help
in the newspaper. I read a story. There was a man named Carl Jones who
was running it then, and it said he was at the library over on Lee street
one day a week. And I read a story about a lady that he was helping
and it sounded just like me, you know. She was raising kids on her own
and trying to get straightened out, so I thought, maybe I've got a chance.
I'll go see these people and see what it's about. So, I went over there
and I filled out all their papers, and he got my credit report, and
he didn't laugh at me. He said, I can help you. And he spent a couple
of hours telling me--this is what you need to do. He told me how to
fix my credit, and he told me how to establish good credit. Told me
to educate myself about buying a house, you know, gave me some good
ideas, and recommended a realtor to me, Mrs. Silverthorn, I went to
see her. And she went to home buying seminars so I could learn what
it was about. But, this Mr. Jones, I mean, he spent a couple of hours
going over this with me and I couldn't believe it. It was like he really,
really wanted to help me and he, like I said, told me exactly what I
needed to do.
you decided that maybe there was a possibility.
was a chance, there was hope. He said, "If you do these things we will
help you get a house." He said, "Do this to fix your credit, save up
this much money, and you can afford this much house." And it was like
a whole new, a whole new deal for me, you know. I had a whole new direction.
KF: I did
everything he told me to do. Everything. I went down and got my credit
straightened out. I established credit. That took me about a year. Then
I was ready to go and see about my house and my car died. So, I had
to get a new car and it was really funny because in the midst of this,
when I had to get the car, I went to my bank to try to get a loan to
get a car, and they wouldn't help me. You know, I had cleaned all this
stuff up, but they still wouldn't help me because I didn't already have
all this credit. So, I finally, I had to get it at a real high interest
rate, but I got a car, but that took me another year--put me back another
year. So, it took me two years to do everything that I needed to do.
So, at the end of that time I called up Self Help to say, "I'm ready",
you know, "give me my house." But, Mr. Jones had left and Marcia was
there, whom I had never met before. So, I gave her the information over
the phone. We made an appointment and I went down to see her. Then she
told me, you know I had not a good enough record and that was the word
that was handed down by her people in Durham. I couldn't get the loan
I wanted, you know, the loan Mr. Jones told me I would get at the good
interest rate. So, I left her office and went to the bathroom and cried.
Oh, I was crushed, because I had worked so hard for two years, and I'm
like, ģI don't know what I'm going to do now. But, two days later Marcia
called me at work. She had called the people back. She said after meeting
me she went to bat for me. She didn't even know me, but she told the
people that she thought they should give me that loan. So, I owe her
a lot. She helped me.
what does it mean to you to finally have this house?
KF: It did
so much for me in so many ways. For one thing, I'm home, I'm home now.
That's so important. Plus, somebody has given me a chance and I did
it. I did it. I did this by myself. It just empowered me, you know,
it's like, I can do anything, if somebody will just give me a chance.
It's something I've always wanted... always wanted. And, I think, you
know it might sound like a little teeny thing to some people. It might
not mean that much but it was everything to me, it really was. It was
is my space. This is my space. That's my yard. I can go out there and
plant my flowers, any kind I want, and they're always going to be mine.
It's not a bulb I'm going to put in and next year somebody's going to
see it come up. Nobody has a key to the door but me, you know. When
you're renting from people they've got keys to your house and they can
come in any time they want. They can treat you any way they want. Nobody
can do that here, this is mine.
been threatened with it. Yeah. I've been through all that crap standing
on the porch on Christmas Eve saying, "Please don't. Give me a
chance." You know. You make a choice. Do I pay the rent or the
light bill? You know. And there're lots of women in America just like
me. There're millions of women raising children by themselves in America.
They're not bad people. They've got plenty of family values. They just
don't have any money, and all they need is somebody to give them a chance.
But, it's like, if you don't have money they treat you like you're a
bad person. You're not bad, you're just poor.