EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Sometimes it's the little things that help make a house a home: It's a real, working doorbell and shiny, aluminum address numbers on the house instead of a letter drawn in marker on a door.
It's knowing your children can play outside safely and not be awakened in the early-morning hours by the sounds of gunfire or tempted by groups of people loitering on corners.
Theressa Wright, 31, and her three children are the 16th family to be approved for an East St. Louis program that takes families out of the projects and bad neighborhoods and gives them a shot at home ownership.
For the first three years, Wright will rent the house through the East Side Heart and Home program. When she successfully rents for three years and completes the required financial classes while working to improve her credit rating, she can buy the house through the program.
As grateful as she is now, when Wright first heard about the program she wasn't interested. Home ownership seemed like such a big step, such an impossibility at a time when she was living in Section 8 housing in East St. Louis.
"It was easier to just stay where I was," she said. "I knew it would be easier than doing this, but I also knew doing it would be a different surrounding for my kids to grow up."
Wright thought about it and realized that making a home means pushing yourself and believing you can, even when the idea of home ownership was once something you never considered a possibility.
Her family moved into the four-bedroom house with a big fenced yard last year after going through an approval process and taking classes in finance, home- and property-maintenance and budgeting.
"She didn't think she could do it at first," said Sister Mary Kay McKenzie, organizer of East Side Heart and Home. "She just needed a little push in the right direction and she's done very well."
Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2010/11/25/1489687/giving-from-the-heart-heart-and.html#ixzz16Jmo7qwc