MATTOON – The house at 2917 Cedar Ave. is off the market with help from the Embarrass River Basin Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The proud owners of the house are Honey and Dennis Arnold.
Honey said she never expected to be able to buy a home because of her credit, but after logging into ERBA and learning about her options, she was able to make it a reality.
The process involved getting her credit back up to snuff, taking a homeownership course, and getting approved for a loan, all of which took a few months.
Honey said it was like a dream come true.
“I’m waiting to wake up and it’s not real, but I’m finally able to live in my dream home and own it,” Honey said. “It’s something I never thought would happen with me.”
Honey said she encourages others who want to buy a home, but aren’t sure if they can, to contact the ERBA and learn about their options.
“Never give up on your dreams,” Honey said. “Somewhere, one day, it will happen.”
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Illinois State Director of Rural Development for the USDA, was on hand to celebrate Arnold’s milestone and said she was happy to be able to celebrate the couple and all the behind-the-scenes work of ERBA and USDA.
“It’s heartwarming, it’s important,” Dirksen Londrigan said. “Housing is key to our personal lives, it’s key to the life of our communities, and it’s key to the growth of the community of which we are a part. It keeps people here, it creates generational wealth and it integrates us into our neighbors, our neighborhood and I’m so excited.
ERBA Housing Director Sandy Deters said the most important thing they can do is help their customers.
“We are simply here to improve their lives and to be able to help our customers become successful, self-sufficient homeowners,” Deters said.
The ERBA Housing Counseling program helps people in Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Jasper, Lawrence, and Richland counties. So far, they have helped 118 families buy houses or receive loans to improve their housing since 2016.
ERBA was also recognized as the USDA Illinois Rural Development Partner of the Year at the rally for helping 18 rural Illinois families become homeowners or complete essential repairs that enabled them to stay in their house.
Contact Corryn Brock at 217-238-6858. Follow her on Twitter at @corryn_brock.