A Sweetbrier Avenue resident received two federal grants to help her buy the house.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- After 25 years of making several trips between her car and rental home every time she went to the grocery store, Queen Lee now pulls into her own attached garage.
After years of renting an apartment house on First Street, Lee, 52, moved into her own home on Sweetbrier Avenue on July 5.
She was helped by the federal first-time homebuyer and down payment assistance grants administered through the city's community development department.
The grants are based on income.
Lee decided to leave the rental because of noisy neighbors and poor upkeep. She couldn't get any rest, she said.
"One day I came back from walking my dog, and a voice told me I needed to get away from there," Lee said.
She learned about the grant programs from Councilman James "Doc" Pugh, D-6th, and Robert L. Stevenson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Warren.
"I told her she needed to get out of there," Pugh said.
Lee didn't think she could afford to buy her own home, but Stevenson showed her she could.
"I told her, 'Queenie, we can do it. You've been working for 15 years,'" Stevenson said.
Lee is a housekeeper at Community Skilled Nursing Centre.
She spotted the Sweetbrier home while driving through the neighborhood and decided it was the one she wanted.
The elaborate flower beds, which reminded her of her uncle, piqued her interest.
"That flower bed just lit my eyes up," she said.
The house wasn't for sale, but Stevenson contacted the owner, who agreed to sell the home.
"He worked with us pretty well," Stevenson said, adding the owner even dropped the price to accommodate what Lee could afford.
Lee drove by the house three times before the deal closed, planning the landscaping she would do once she moved in.
She moved the flowers and shrubbery she had planted years ago at her old house and planted them at her new house.
"She went from a $300 rent payment on a rundown place to a $28,000 home that she owns and pays $201 per month," Pugh said.
He pointed out the grant programs enable people to own their homes. Sunshine Inc., a nonprofit program, requires people to live in the house, making payments for 15 years before they can buy it.
"This just shows that owning your own home is a dream that's in reach, even for someone who doesn't make $20 an hour," Pugh said.
"Anyone who's willing to work hard can realize their dream of one day owning their own house."
Happy at home
Lee moved from the one-bedroom house with a living room, kitchen and basement to a three-bedroom with living room, kitchen and front and back porches.
At her old house, she parked her car in a neighbor's garage.
"I used to have to make five or six trips from the car to the house every time I went to the grocery store or did laundry," Lee said.
Now she can pull into her own driveway or attached garage to unload groceries or laundry. She also enjoys her new, quiet, friendly neighborhood.
"I just love to sit out here on my porch, watching the kids and the cars go by and saying, 'Hi, Ma'am. I just love your flowers,'" she said.
Lee encourages others in her situation to look into the programs and pursue their dream of home ownership.
"It's the best feeling," she said. "I've been blessed. If you work hard and have faith in God, 25 or 30 years is nothing. It took me 25 years, but I'm happy with it."