Aliesha Porcena, Director of Small Business for the City of Boston, recently purchased her first home, a condominium in Boston.
And she could not be happier.
"It has not gotten old yet. Every day I walk into my home—yes, my home! And I think to myself, 'Wow this is really mine!'"
Aliesha started her home ownership journey by taking a homebuyer education class as well as a credit workshop at Nuestra Comunidad in 2019. "I wanted to understand the process and take advantage of the City of Boston programs," she says.
Aliesha's mother worked two full-time jobs for years, and through a Boston housing program was able to purchase a house in Roxbury, in 2002.
Aliesha understood that buying a home is not a quick process. She took her time to make sure she got it right. She also understood that by purchasing her own home, she was taking a big step forward in building her personal financial security.
"I am the daughter of immigrants and grew up in public housing, sharing a room with my two sisters and grandmother," Aliesha says. "This process took dedication, sacrifice, and hard work."
"One thing I was also conscious of is the rate of homeownership within the Black community in Boston, which is about 31%, and that is far too low," she says. "I knew that homeownership was a vehicle to create personal wealth, and also generational wealth."
Once she felt prepared to start the buying process in 2021, Aliesha was referred to Lou Marcus at Eastern Bank.
"In a conversation with Lou, he said a pre-approval is not a commitment. Come in with your documents and a good attitude. That is all you need," Aliesha remembers. "So, I did. I went to meet with him in person in July of 2021 and got a pre-approval. Speaking with Lou really put me at ease and made me feel good about starting this process."
Lou helped Aliesha determine what she could afford and what loan was best for her. Aliesha qualified for MassHousing's down payment assistance.
"Because of the down payment assistance program, I had more access and options to homes across Boston. But more importantly, I had the security that I needed for myself to move forward with a purchase. Because of this program my savings were not depleted, which has helped me tremendously."
While Aliesha pays more every month now than when she was renting, she views it as an investment in herself. "I see it as paying into my future. It is an investment in me. I am incredibly proud to be a homeowner, and what I have accomplished thus far."
Aliesha offers great advice for would-be buyers like herself.
"This process has taught me that it is really upon me to understand the programs that are out there and to take advantage of them. I also learned the importance of having a community that will support and advocate for you throughout this journey. From my Realtor, Yves Pierre-Louis, to my lawyer, my family and friends, I had in-depth conversations, guidance, and support from so many—I wasn't alone in this process. I also asked a lot of questions, multiple times, to make sure I understood—so don’t be afraid to ask questions. For anyone hesitant about the journey, my advice would be to start. You must start somewhere and realize that the results might not be immediate. It took me years, but it is something that you must build towards and if you stay diligent, it can happen."