EP 02 – ENTRY 01: CALIFORNIA DREAMING
Today we met someone who loves that empty blue 07 URBANbuild house on Dryades and Sixth. In fact, she can see it from her living room window. Her name is Tess Lassai, and she lives just a few doors down. A longtime resident of this neighborhood, Tess says the house reminds her of Santa Barbara. (And considering how hot it is down here, I can only imagine why someone would long for a cool sea breeze.) Tess wants her daughter to buy the house so she can see her grand daughter waving from the window.
But what hits us more with each day we film is how incredibly hard the process of buying a home can be, especially when a) you’ve never done it before AND b) you need financial assistance from a city whose infrastructure was pummeled by a Category 5 hurricane.
How naive we were when we got here. We thought that with a little nudge and enough housing workshops, an eager, dedicated homebuyer would be well on their way to ownership.
But URBANbuild partner NHS (Neighborhood Housing Services) [www.nhsnola.org] is setting us straight: We’ve learned that because of credit and income requirements (financial burdens we are ALL familiar with…um, hello!) combined with lack of subsidy money that dried up after Katrina, it can sometimes take five years plus for a new homebuyer to find the right house. During that time, a dream home could be snatched from beneath your feet.
For middle to lower income New Orleans residents (many of whom are also single mothers, as our show will probably reveal) purchasing a safe affordable house takes a reserve of strength, determination, and persistence much deeper than we had imagined.