Meet Our Borrowers: Russhawn Godwin, New Homeowner

First-time homeowner Ms. Russhawn Godwin sat down with us in July 2023 to talk about her new house and the purchase process. She told us about her dream of creating a safe haven for her whole family, her journey to take control of her financial life, and how Homes by CFE made it possible for her to achieve her dream. Our newly launched Down Payment Assistance Program was the final piece of her puzzle, on top of her own hard work and savings and the support she got from our partners. Here’s our conversation, condensed and edited for space and clarity:

Congratulations again, Ms. Godwin! What’s your new home like? 

When I first walked in, it was just perfect. It wowed me. Warm and welcoming, and the layout was me all the way. It’s ranch-style with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and everything is on one floor. I picked it because I’m a single grandma, getting a little older, and steps are just not going to be in my favor as the years go by. And I finally have a driveway, after so much trouble with my car getting hit and broken into on the street where I used to live.  

Best of all, I have space for my family to come and stay for a spell. I have four grown kids, my oldest granddaughter stays here with me for school, and I have my sisters and six other grandkids and a host of cousins and all that. They mean a lot to me. I wanted them to have a safe haven, somewhere to rest. My doors are open to them all the time, and there’s a nice amount of yard in the front and the back so the little ones can come and play outside while I watch them.  

Please tell us a little about yourself?  

I grew up as a regular urban young woman in DC, and I had to go through everything a young woman in DC has to go through. I had some hardships just like everyone. Sometimes I don’t consider a hardship to be a hardship; it’s painful, but it’s a milestone. I found myself separated, on my own, working paycheck to paycheck. I had to learn about credit and how not to be a slave to your debt, way before I started looking for a home. Since 2015, I’ve been working as a night auditor balancing the books at a conference center. I should be napping right now! 

How did Homes by CFE and our partners help you on your home-buying journey? 

Ms. Godwin and her family in her new home.

I just had so much room in my heart for family, but I didn’t have the space. The whole process took two years from when my daughter and I went to a City of DC zoom meeting about homeownership. Seemed like everything was so slow, but even when it was crawling – babies crawl and that’s still something! At first I started with a loan company, but it just wasn’t working out. I was spending money I didn’t have, and everything was taking so long. Then Mr. TC, the director of a wonderful organization called Manna Homes, just randomly called and asked how my home search was going. I told him all my woes, and from that day until signing, he never left my side. 

You know how you have a picture in your head of what you want your house to look like? I work nights, and it was so frustrating and time-consuming to get up in the middle of the day and keep going from house to house, going uh uh, nope, that’s not the house I want. I had the money, I had the credit, I had the job history, I had help from the City, I had everything – but it still just wasn’t adding up. I needed a little more help. Mr. TC is very resourceful and he said, I’m gonna send you to Homes by CFE.  

That’s how I found out about your new program that could boost me up to where I needed to be financially, for me to be in a home that’s decent and move-in ready and somewhere I want to be. I didn’t think I could afford it, but CFE told me my mortgage payment will be just $300 more than I was paying for my apartment, and I realized – I can do this. I can do this. I can do this!  

“Best of all, I have space for my family to come and stay. My doors are open to them all the time.”

What do you think will be different for you and your family because of your new home? 

Just owning a home is financially beneficial, I’m learning. The tax breaks that come with it, the freedom that you have – and also a lot of responsibility. Where’s my water shutoff? What does my furnace look like? So many things to keep in mind, and I’m loving it. I can do what I want in my decorating to make my home feel good for me when I walk in my door. And we didn’t have to leave DC! I’m a native Washingtonian, but I just wasn’t seeing how I could get a home where I was born and raised. With gentrification and the cost of living going up, affordability doesn’t look like it’s in reach for people like myself. Now I’m comfortable with my mortgage payments and I don’t have to move away. Homes by CFE was a blessing out of nowhere, at the last minute and exactly on time. Thank you!