For Courtney Nolta, the road to homeownership began with the support and resources of her local public housing agency. After 3 years, Nolta was successful in buying a home in La Pine in March 2020. “It changed the trajectory of my life and my mother’s life. It has to have had an impact for my son too,” she states. When we remove the barriers that Oregonians with low incomes face in finding housing they can afford, close to work and schools, we create communities where all can thrive.
In 2013, Nolta had just finished her third term of service as an Americorps volunteer in eastern Oregon. “It really opened my eyes to the need for small communities, and I felt very inspired by that time serving the community,” she states.
A housing choice voucher was assisting her with covering the rent for herself and her son. The public housing agency that managed her voucher, Housing Works, invited her to join their Family Self-Sufficiency program, which provided access to a coach, classes, and financial incentives to pursue goals like homeownership.
Her coach talked her into starting an IDA. She started saving $25 per month and setting aside larger amounts when she got her annual tax refund. “That coach is just essential,” Nolta states. “I would have totally quit long before.”
In the meantime, she and her mother had moved in together in order to be together and help each other out. They decided to join forces to buy a home together. “Knowing that she didn’t have enough social security income to ever afford housing on her own, she really needed to be part of this plan,” Nolta explains.
Nolta had now been working at Central Oregon Community College for five years, working on her credit profile and searching for a supportive lender and realtor. She was troubled to find that there were few properties that fit within their budget.
“I couldn’t find an affordable place to purchase for so long, and it made me feel like my community doesn’t want people like me in this economic bracket,” states Nolta. “This community can’t function and provide all of the luxuries that it does without your service industry people, without your families, the people who are trying to get by. They have just as much of a part to play in the development of the community.”
Now in her home for over two years, Nolta continues, “This has provided a kind of stability that I have never known my entire life. It tears at you when you cannot find adequate, affordable housing. To know that my rent is not going to increase, to know that every month I am investing in my future…the self-esteem boost and confidence that I have…does a lot for a person’s soul.”
Nolta’s mom passed away due to a sudden cancer diagnosis in August 2021. “I’m so grateful to have spent the last year of her life in this home that we purchased together. She had a greater sense of peace knowing that I was stable,” states Nolta.
Nolta continues to advocate for solutions to our housing problems, meeting with her elected representatives to share her first-hand experiences. She encourages her employer to be a voice at the decision-making table to ensure adequate housing for the community they serve. Nolta believes that we all have a role to play in ensuring everyone has a safe, stable place to call home.