by Becky GINOS
LAYTON—It’s not often that a community comes together to make someone’s dream come true. But that’s exactly what happened last week as the Espinoza family was given the keys to their new home thanks to the Have a Heart Home Foundation.
“For years and years me and Jacoi dreamed of a house of our own – since he was a little boy,” said Deanna Espinoza. “I can’t put into words how grateful we are.”
Dale and Deanna Espinoza and their two children Jacoi and Town have been renting a home in Ogden and this will be the first home they have owned.
“This means everything to us,” said Dale. “It’s been two or three years in the making. We’ve been waiting for this day. Now that we’ve got our keys we can start moving in today.”
The Have a Heart Home Foundation is sponsored by the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors (NWAOR) and the Northern Wasatch Homebuilders Association (NWHA). Through the program, homes are constructed and sold at significant discounts to families with special needs, both financial and otherwise, according to material provided.
Mainline Construction and Stewart Smith built the home and Layton City donated the lot.
“We used funds from our Community Development Block Grant (CDBG),” said Kent Andersen, Layton City Economic Development Deputy Director. “This is the third home with Have a Heart. We’ve also partnered with the school district to build homes. We buy the lot and transfer the property to Have a Heart.”
The city takes a second mortgage on the property but the homeowner doesn’t make payments on it and there is no interest. “We do that because what’s to stop someone from selling it the next day and making a big profit?” he said. “The homeowner can stay as long as they want but if they leave before five years, they have to repay the full amount of the loan. But every year after five years they owe 10 percent less. At the end of 15 years they wouldn’t owe anything. It’s also an incentive to stay in our community longer and be a part of it.”
Andersen said the city tries to do a home a year. “We don’t have a lot of money but we think this is a great program that we’d like to continue to partner with,” he said. “With all the talk about housing affordability, it’s nice to assist families that need it.”
Builder Stewart Smith thanked all those involved in completing the project before making a special presentation to the Espinoza’s son Jacoi who has special needs. “I can’t say enough about these guys, they just discounted and donated and included upgrades,” said Smith. “This is a great home for a neat family. I have something special for Jacoi. I know you love sunsets so I had a neighbor who’s an artist paint a sunset so that you can have it wherever you go.”
Smith unveiled a large painting of a beautiful sunset with a small bus pictured in the corner because Jacoi loves to ride the bus. Jacoi clapped and smiled, hugging everyone around him.
The family had to apply and qualify to be considered for the home. “Cottages of Hope helped us to get on the right financial path so we could qualify,” said Dale. “When we started this journey it seemed like it was so far away but little piece by piece we got here.”
“What a blessing for our family,” said Deanna. “Jacoi can watch the sunset from his bedroom every night – that’s insane.”