“It wasn’t easy, but I was determined,” said Nathan W., sharing his path to homeownership. This former Army Veteran and Opportunity House Veteran Programs graduate knows the value of hard work and perseverance.
Nathan grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed track and field, and cross country during his time at Reading High School. He graduated in 1972, during the Vietnam Draft. He openly admits he enrolled in college to avoid the draft. Eventually, he enlisted in the Army in 1975.
His Army career started in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and he returned there before leaving the Army in 1979.
Then, Nathan worked in a variety of jobs, and in 1989, he met his wife Ruth while they both worked at Boscov’s warehouse. They married in 1992 and now have 3 daughters.
While they were a happy family, things weren’t always easy. Ruth juggled work and home responsibilities and their household income would fluctuate. The family would move around to find affordable housing. Eventually, the family had to split up to keep a roof over their heads.
In 2015 things began to look up for Nathan and his family. They were able to rent a home on Cotton Street in Reading, Pennsylvania thanks to the Veteran Program at Opportunity House. “They provided our security deposit and first month’s rent,” noted Nathan. That was the hand-up they needed to get stably housed.
The Journey to Becoming a Homeowner
In 2020, they decided to start looking for a home they could own. Then they learned their landlord was looking to retire and sell his properties. The landlord suggested Nathan consider buying it using a VA loan. With some help from Veterans United, he was able to improve his credit. The landlord made a very reasonable offer and they purchased the property in 2021.
Becoming a homeowner felt impossible in 2015 and then six years later it became their reality. Nathan says being a homeowner is both a practical choice and a personal one. “My mortgage is cheaper than rent and I like the ability to fix things up the way we like it,” he noted. “ We feel more secure and stable. It’s the first time I can call this place home.”
Knowing it’s their home gives Nathan and Ruth piece of mind and time to enjoy their retirement. “I enjoy riding my bike on the trails in Berks County. The fresh air is tranquil and euphoric,” says this avid exercise enthusiast. Nathan and Ruth also enjoy planning their days together which often includes projects around their house. “We’re in the process of painting a few rooms and replacing some carpets. That will make it feel even more comfortable for us,” he noted.
Hard work, determination and support from Opportunity House helped turn their hard work into the retirement that was once just a dream.
Please note Opportunity House no longer administers the Supportive Services for Veterans grant mentioned in this article. For access to the funding in Berks County, contact Catholic Charities at (610) 435-1541.