A Home for the Generations: Eva’s Story

There’s a lot that Eva loves about being a new homeowner. 

She loves having a house in a neighborhood she’s been renting in for years. She loves living close to her family, as a sister, mother, and grandmother of two. And she loves that she can actually enjoy her house without a time-consuming commute. 

“There’s a lot of fog, but I love San Francisco,” Eva, a longtime MAF client, says. “One of my dreams always was that I want to live where I work.”

But this dream wasn’t an easy-to-achieve reality. Eva has done a lot in her life: She immigrated to the United States from El Salvador when she was 15, started her own nutrition business on top of her full-time job in social services, sent her three children to college, and endured a financially challenging divorce — one that almost stopped her dreams of buying a home.

“Coming from two incomes to one — I was left with debt,” Eva says. “I never thought that I was going to be given the opportunity back to be a homeowner.”

Eva thought of ways to support her family, including her children and grandmother. She became invested in nutrition to protect her own health, barely taking any sick days to preserve her income. “I couldn’t imagine myself getting sick during the time I needed to stay strong,” Eva says. 

Income was one thing, but building credit posed another challenge. Because of the debt from the divorce, Eva knew she had to strengthen her credit score to give herself — and her family — the best possible chance at homeownership.

Joining MAF was a game-changer for Eva’s finances.

Years ago, Eva and her cousin passed by MAF’s office on Mission Street on their way to work. “We like to try everything,” Eva says, so they decided to join an informational meeting.

The energy immediately moved her. She started participating in MAF’s Lending Circles program, which provides interest-free credit-building loans via community support. This formalizes a global tradition of community lending, sometimes known as tandas and susus.

“The people that join [MAF] are from the community. These are working families looking for a resource like me,” Eva says. “Meeting these people and hearing their stories — it was a gathering, it was sharing. There was always food and trying to have that environment of safety and community.”

Over the years, Eva participated in MAF’s financial services for small business owners, services that were tangibly different from the classes she took in college. “They’re basically designed for Latinos, like me, to try to serve our community,” Eva says.

“It’s not just the Latino community,” she adds. “It’s different immigrant communities where the environment becomes more like family and friends, always sharing very personal — sometimes intimate, difficult — growing experiences.”

The community at MAF created treasured friendships and relationships. All the while, Lending Circles were opening a door that Eva once thought was closed to her.

“I saw the changes in my credit score,” Eva says. “It was a dream come true.” 

The changes came at exactly the right hour. In the summer of 2022, Eva and her family were hustling to buy a house with their combined income. All the cards were falling into place, but Eva just needed one more boost to her credit score to get a loan approved.

At the time, Eva was participating in a Lending Circle, so she asked Doris, MAF’s Senior Client Success Manager, if there was anything that could be done. 

“One more payment,” Eva was told. “One more payment, and it’s going to make a difference.”  

The Lending Circles program boosts credit scores by reporting loan payments to all three major credit bureaus. MAF quickly accelerated Eva’s loan payment timeline so her final payment was processed before the closing date. 

The whole journey reminded Eva of why she joined MAF in the first place.

“It’s a sense of community, friends, and family, ‘we’re here for you,’” Eva says. “The goal is not just getting participants. The goal is helping the participants make their dreams come true.”

The best part about Eva’s new home? It’s not just for her.

“You’re taking care of your own house for future generations,” Eva says. She hopes that her kids will want to keep and live in the house for a long time. 

After all, there’s a lot of value in that home, and not just financially. Family and community motivated and anchored Eva through all those years in her profession, in her personal life, and in her work with MAF. 

This house is a symbol of that relationship — and a way for Eva to continue that tradition for years to come. “It’s a team effort,” Eva says.

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