FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — For one Frederick family, success meant escaping the challenges of poverty and financial uncertainty. It’s taken three years and a lot of resources and guidance to go from public housing to fulfilling a dream of homeownership.
Tiffany Green was born in Brooklyn, New York. And like many, her life has become the vision of the American dream.
“We grew up in New York City public housing and my mother wanted a better life for us,” Green explained.” At the time and moment, there was a lot of violence, gang violence and so she wanted us to have a better life.”
For the family that meant putting down roots in Frederick, Maryland. Tiffany attended Frederick Community College and then pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University. Shortly after graduating in 2010, she welcomed her daughter, Shaniah.
Green then set her sights on a new milestone: owning a home.
If she could do it, Green would become the first person in her family to obtain homeownership. The homes she had grown up in had been rented, and it was a goal others in her family hadn’t yet been able to achieve.
“I don’t want to be living underneath my mother’s roof, I graduated from college,” Green recalls. “It’s time to fly my own wings.”
During that time, Green had just lost her job. She began to volunteer at the Housing Authority of Frederick County and began to seek local programming to set her on the track to purchase a home. So, she turned to United Way of Frederick County.
In 2015, the non-profit launched the Prosperity Center to help ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families, who struggle to afford basic needs like housing, to get back on their feet.
“We know that homeownership is a huge deal for ALICE households,” explained Ken Oldham, CEO and President of United Way of Frederick County.” You have control over that asset. With that control comes a heck of a lot of responsibility.”
But United Way has a team of volunteers to provide free income tax assistance, credit score workshops, and budget coaching. ALICE families or individuals are able to access these programs with the goal of obtaining financial stability to purchase a home, a car, or both.
“My budget coach was the best budget coach ever,” Green said.” He took the time to sit down and show me what financial literacy was, what is financial knowledge, and I learned so much.”
Green raised her credit score, paid off debts, and in 2017 after one year of budget coaching, she purchased a new home.
“If I can do this, me, a girl from Brooklyn, New York, Fort Greene projects, then guess what? You can do this too,” Green said.
With additional savings, Green returned to the classroom and in May she earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Baltimore.
She’s started her own non-profit organization, Empowered to Live, Inc., which is launching in 2021. Green also spends time volunteering as a budget coach for United Way.
Her journey has encouraged her mother and siblings to return to school with the hopes of purchasing the property of their own.
“You can see yourself as being this big, huge success and feel like you’ve arrived, but you don’t arrive unless you start looking back and give a helping hand,” Green explained. “That’s my mission in life, to serve others.”
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