December 20, 2023 – Last week, MHP’s ONE Mortgage hit a milestone: 25,000 low- and moderate-income families have bought their first home with ONE Mortgage! This achievement reminds us of where it all started. It was 1991, the SoftSecond loan program had just launched, and Florence Hagins wanted to buy her dream home.
Over 30 years ago, MAHA was fighting for a mortgage program that supported low- to moderate-income people, especially people of color, and won! Our grassroots Homebuyers Union members had negotiated with three Boston banks to launch the SoftSecond program in late 1990 with MHP as an invaluable partner. MAHA organizers, Hillary Pizer and Thomas Callahan, were talking with banks and planning meetings with the community to talk about this new mortgage product. Florence was one of the people who showed up to this meeting about the SoftSecond. Though it was intriguing, Florence had already found the perfect house for herself and her daughter plus she had submitted her loan application. She was on her way to homeownership.
Then she got the call. Florence’s mortgage application was denied because the private mortgage insurer thought she was not a good risk. But a couple days later, she got a call from Hillary Pizer letting her know that the SoftSecond loan program had finally launched. Florence was on it. She got approved for the mortgage loan and by January 1991 she closed on her home, becoming the first person of the 25,000 to achieve affordable sustainable homeownership.
ONE Mortgage made such a difference for Florence. With the low interest rate, low downpayment, and most significantly no private mortgage insurance to determine her “not a good risk,” it helped to make homeownership attainable for her.
It didn’t stop there for Florence. After she bought her home, she got to work making sure the support she received would be available for others in her community. She volunteered with MAHA and five years later joined our staff. During her time at MAHA, she counseled thousands of potential homebuyers, established MAHA’s HomeSafe education and discount program (our Homeowner 201 classes), and was part of negotiating Community Reinvestment Act agreements with banks for over $1.5 billion in mortgage lending.
This milestone for ONE Mortgage is a testament to countless hours of work by Homebuyers Union members like Florence. Each step of the way community leaders fought for the program: from the creation of the SoftSecond, to encouraging banks to adopt it, to convincing state and city officials to invest in it. This paved the way for today as MAHA members (like Symone, Cortina, Thadine, and Acia, to name a few) in partnership with MHP follow in Florence’s footsteps and keep pushing for more. More investment in the ONE Mortgage, more affordable interest rates, and more expansion of the ONE+Boston will lead to more low- to moderate-income people of color becoming homeowners.