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SOCIAL SERVICES

ERBA, USDA make dream of home ownership possible for Mattoon couple

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MATTOON — The home at 2917 Cedar Ave. is off the market thanks to help from the Embarras River Basin Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The proud owners of the home are Honey and Dennis Arnold.

Honey said she never expected to be able to purchase a home due to her credit, but after connecting with ERBA and learning about her options she was able to make it a reality.

The process involved getting her credit up to par, undergoing a homebuyers course and getting approved for a loan, all taking a few months to complete.

Honey said it felt like a dream come true.

“I'm waiting to wake up and this isn't real but I finally am able to live in my dream home and own it,” Honey said. “It’s something I never thought would ever happen with me.”

Honey said she encourages other people who want to buy a home, but are not sure if they can, to reach out to ERBA and learn about their options.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Honey said. “Somewhere, someday, it will happen.”

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, the Illinois state director for rural development for the USDA, was in attendance to celebrate the Arnold’s milestone and said she was happy to be able to celebrate the couple and all of the behind the scenes work by ERBA and the USDA.

“It’s heartwarming, it’s important,” Dirksen Londrigan said. “Housing is a key to our personal lives, it’s a key to our communities’ lives and it’s a key to how we grow the community we are a part of. It keeps people here, it creates generational wealth and it embeds us in our neighbors, our neighborhood and I am so excited.”

ERBA Housing Director Sandy Deters said that the most important thing they can do is help their clients.

“We’re just here to improve their lives and to be able to help our clients become self-sustaining and successful homeowners,” Deters said.

The ERBA Housing Counseling program assists individuals in Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Jasper, Lawrence and Richland counties. So far, they have helped 118 families buy homes or receive loans to make home improvements since 2016.

ERBA was also recognized as the USDA Illinois Rural Development Partner of the Year at the gathering for assisting 18 rural Illinois families with becoming homeowners or essential repairs that allowed them to remain in their home.

Contact Corryn Brock at 217-238-6858. Follow her on Twitter at @corryn_brock.

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