Angelia Allen is a 63-year-old native Chattanoogan who is about to graduate to a new life made possible by her hard work through the housing authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency program. For the last five years, Ms. Allen has been part of the quarterly training program that provided education to promote credit worthiness, homeownership and business ownership.
Over the last nine years, the CHA has graduated over 50 individuals from the program. Thanks to matching dollars from HUD that are compounded and partnerships from Operation Hope based at First Horizon Bank, individuals graduating from the program receive funds that were placed in escrow accounts to be used for home down payments, purchase transportation, pay for child care, or to pay off old debt to enable them to make a fresh start.
Since 2004 HUD has been accepting public housing authority or Section 8 residents into the life-changing program. Program coordinator Takeyta Young notes that the housing authority has seen between 75-100 individuals come into the program with group meetings complimenting the educational effort to provide additional support. “We tell our residents that they have to trust the process," said Ms. Young. "If they do, they will have a clear path to self-sufficiency. It’s exactly what we should be doing."
Ms. Allen agrees. “I keep telling people that the opportunity is there for you if you will just keep at it.”
The mother of grown daughters is planning to use her escrow funds to look for her first home. After living in Cromwell Hills since 1995, she’s looking forward to moving into a home in an East Brainerd neighborhood. She’s also looking forward to working with her best friend as they open a house cleaning business in the coming weeks.
Using the skills learned through the program, Ms. Allen was able to clear up bad debt that was keeping her from her dreams and is looking forward to the future. She gives thanks to the ongoing help she receives from quarterly group meetings and Operation Hope, a program that provides financial literacy and empowerment.
As Ms. Allen graduates from the program, she plans to continue volunteering to help others on their own journey toward self-sufficiency. The grandmother of five and great-grandmother of two says it’s never too late for a fresh start.