Throughout her life, Mable Brown pictured herself sitting on the front porch of her own home, sipping tea, reading a good book, and enjoying her neighbors’ company, but as she put it, “things don’t always work out the way we plan.”
As a little girl and onward into adulthood, Mable was taught that you get a trade or you get a degree and you live a productive life. She took this to heart and trained to become a nurse’s aide; she worked in this field for many years until her retirement. Even still, Mable decided she couldn’t just sit at home, so she began working part-time in the same field and serving within her church. As she raised her own children, she instilled the same message in them:
“None of my kids have been in serious trouble,” she said. That’s how I brought them up. I have teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers and more in my family.”
Mable felt blessed for the life she was given. She was married, had three beautiful children, and everyone who came to know her was instantly taken with how kind and giving she was. Even when her circumstances would have put most people off their feet, she continued to believe in the idea she had started her life with – to keep going.
When Mable and her husband got divorced, her life shifted in an unexpected way. It was always in the back of her mind that she and him would buy a house by 2010, have a place to host their growing grandchildren, and have a place to call home. But In 2006 she had to branch out on her own and give up on the idea that it could be hers.
She moved into an apartment where at first everything looked and felt okay, but only after one month did the problems start to bubble up one by one. First came the mice and then the roaches, and eventually even bed bugs plagued her every day.
“One day I showed up to work and opened my purse and a roach was sitting right inside,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. The problem had gotten so out of hand that I wasn’t able to escape them.”
The infestation was growing worse and Mable reached out to her landlord many times begging for an exterminator. She said the response was always the same: “There just isn’t enough money for that.”
She managed to keep the trouble at bay on her own dime, but she ended up dealing with it for years. When she finally started to feel like she could handle the situation, one of her daughters fell ill with cancer. Without a second thought, Mable dedicated much of her life to making sure her daughter felt comfortable and safe.
“That was my baby and I helped her with everything to take care of her,” She said. “Unfortunately she eventually passed in 2013 at only 36 years old.”
Mable kept going. For a couple years after her daughter’s passing, she struggled with emotional and physical pain. Her knee began to give her trouble and it became serious to the point of needing surgery. Her doctors encouraged her to wait, so she did. She continued to wait in her poor living conditions with toxic people surrounding her. She was often living in fear as some of her neighbors were constantly shuffling others in and out of the building to sell drugs. They would knock on the walls and yell and when she came home one day to find out her home had been violated she felt done.
It wasn’t long after that when Mable was finally able to have her surgery in 2015. With her medical bills stacked up and the terror of her apartment looming over her, she finally said “I have to get out of this place. I can’t keep living like this.”
As Mable reflected on that point in her life, she said “Home to me means security. It means that you’re free; you can do what you want when you want and how you want to do it. You can beautify, you can entertain, and you can relax. That’s home.”
From that point forward, Mable was determined to make that lifelong image in the back of her mind achieve reality.
Mable had been a loyal customer of US Bank for many years and told them she was finally ready to buy a home. It was nearly a celebration as many knew what Mable had gone through to get to this point. They immediately connected her with a loan officer and as they walked her through the process they mentioned that before she could purchase she would need to complete First Time Homebuyer Education courses.
She chose to take the courses in February 2016 at Spanish Coalition for Housing because their South Chicago office was along her regular route. When she was connected with Pre-Purchase Counselor, Anna, she was blown away at how comfortable she made her feel.
Anna said “she saved well and had excellent credit scores. On top of that, she’s just the sweetest lady. That’s Mable Brown.”
It was not lost on Anna that Mable deserved this amazing life change after everything that had transpired.
When Mable completed her course and Anna handed her that certificate she felt like she had gained the key to her home already. It was a victorious and fulfilling moment as she sat there and thanked Anna for her guidance.
“As a first time purchaser it’s different now than how it used to be. Back in the day you could just go out a buy a house. Now you need to know about taxes, principles, credit…the list goes on,” Mable exclaimed. “But there are these people who help. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Mable then began the most trying but also most rewarding part of the process – finding her home. She wanted to stay well under budget and didn’t want to go into something that would be too much work. She ended up looking for over a year. After being beaten out on two homes already, she was feeling tired; she just wanted the search to be over. So by the time she found the third home in July, she said “write it up.”
Her realtor helped her navigate the bidding war that initially appeared to be another road block, but was able to come out on top, staying $10,000 under budget.
“There are some things to fix,” she said. The stove needs to be redone, the fridge needed replacing, – it’s a lot of little things, but I can do it little by little and I’m so happy. It’s clean. It’s peaceful. It’s mine.
Mable encourages other families or individuals who are looking to purchase a home to “go for it.”
“Take your time, get with the right people and sometimes you have to sit down with yourself and keep going when you get tired,” She said.
If you or someone you know is dreaming of buying a home, visit or call one of Spanish Coalition for Housing’s offices and we will help you start the process. We’re here to help you get home.
1922 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60639
1915 S. Blue Island,
Chicago, IL 60608
South Chicago Office:
9010 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617