Low-income Chicago families get help buying their first home

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Like many Chicagoans, Niesha Chism has always dreamed of owning a home. But after getting into some credit trouble, she wasn't sure how or when she would be able to do it.

For five years, she had been a part of the Chicago Housing Authority's voucher program, which allowed her to rent a home with the help of government assistance.

"I have a bachelor's degree, an MBA and my Master's of Science and Finance and I was on the program," Chism said. "It just shows you, even with degrees and good jobs, people are still on some of these programs. It don't make you lazy."

Eventually, Chism's income no longer allowed her to qualify for a voucher. That's when the Choose To Own program came in to help.

"The Choose to Own program is a program that HUD created many years ago to give our voucher holders an opportunity to acquire a home," Choose To Own CEO Eugene Jones Jr. said.

The program has helped almost 600 people buy a home in Chicago. With their help, Chism was able to buy her first house - and it just so happens to be right next door to her childhood home.

"That's better than moving back in," her father, Otis Chism, joked. "I call this the Chism Corner now. I always emphasized to her: to have your own, get your own. I'm pretty proud of her."

But she's not just here because she has a built-in babysitter next door. This house has sentimental value, too.

"It was someplace where I spent a lot of my childhood years. Mrs. Sweeney, God rest her soul, she used to look out for me. I'd come here and she'd cook for me. She taught me how to cook, actually," Niesha Chism said.

So far this year, the program has helped 30 people close on a home and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
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