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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Nicole Boyle laughs in her bedroom in her new house in Nashua. Boyle was able to take advantage of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund which gave her a $6,000 grant for closing costs.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Nicole Boyle sits on the couch in the living room of her new home in Nashua. Boyle was able to take advantage of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund which gave her a $6,000 grant for closing costs.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Nicole Boyle stands outside her new home in Nashua. Boyle was able to take advantage of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which gave her a $6,000 grant for closing costs.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Nicole Boyle stands in the living room of her new Nashua home, Saturday afternoon. Boyle was able to take advantage of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund which gave her a $6,000 grant for closing costs.
Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nashua single mother saves for home through loan program

NASHUA – Nicole Boyle considers her modest home a miracle.

She has lived in her home, tucked away in an established south Nashua neighborhood, since last summer. She still can’t talk about how lucky she feels to have it without shedding a tear.

“I really didn’t think I ever could have bought a house on my own,” said Boyle, 39, a divorced mother struggling to raise three children on her salary in a job with a social service agency.

“I thought I would have needed someone else to help us.”

Boyle was able to buy a home through a community loan program, purchased in part through money she was able to scrimp and save.

Boyle bought her home through an Individual Development Account program, which provides a $6,000 grant for down payment and closing costs, provided that participants can save $2,000 on their own. The program requires participants to take workshops on finances and budgeting, geared toward first-time homebuyers.

Boyle learned about the program through Greater Manchester NeighborWorks, the only New Hampshire chapter of the nonprofit NeighborWorks America organization.

NeighborWorks is one of various agencies in the state that partners with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund for the IDA program, said Marcy Meyer, director of asset development for the loan fund.

The Community Loan Fund raises money for the program through a mix of federal money and private contributions, Meyer said. Part of the contributions come through the sale of tax credits, she said.

“Business owners throughout New Hampshire support the program through buying tax credits,” she said.

The Community Loan Fund also manages reporting and maintains data about the program. Various agencies provide the intake and work directly with clients, Meyer said.

“They have the expertise to help someone fulfill their goals,” she said.

Near Nashua, the agencies that work directly with clients for the IDA program include Greater Manchester NeighborWorks, More Than Wheels, the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and the Front Door Agency (formerly Nashua Pastoral Care).

A main focus of the program is education, said Vanessa Beauchesne, a NeighborWorks home ownership counselor who worked with Boyle.

Participants must take the homebuyers education classes, Beauchesne said.

Once people are in the program, they have a couple years to finish saving the $2,000 they need for their contribution to the down payment.

“We like to have people in there for two or three years at the most,” Beauchesne said.

Currently, about 50 people are in the program saving for the down payment. The income limit to qualify is 200 percent of the poverty limit.

Statewide, about 180 people at any given time are participating in the IDA program, Meyer said. The program has served about 1,300 New Hampshire residents in the last 10 years, she said.

Buying her home required hard work, Boyle said. The work continued before she and her children moved into the house, which had been empty.

The walls were so stained, they looked like they had been splattered with cans of cola shaken and then popped open.

The stains weren’t from a soft drink, but from years of cigarette smoke from the elderly couple who had lived there.

That required a lot of elbow grease to clean, Boyle said.

Then Boyle’s children taught her an important early lesson about home ownership: Don’t fear color.

After years of living in apartments with off-white walls, Boyle placed faith in her children to pick out the colors. They did well.

Her son, 10, picked a dark blue. As they were painting the room, Boyle kept thinking the color wouldn’t work because it was too dark.

She was wrong. The dark shade looks sharp, partially because two windows keep the room well lit during the daytime, even on cloudy days.

The lighter colors in the girls’ rooms also look nice.

After eight years of living in a two-bedroom apartment, Boyle and her children feel a newfound freedom in the three-bedroom home with a living room, kitchen and finished basement.

That freedom came at a cost. As a single mother with one income, Boyle admitted that saving the $2,000 required sacrifice.

“I just make a little too much money to qualify for things like Section 8,” she said.

Moving into a three-bedroom apartment wasn’t financially possible. Renting a three-bedroom cost dramatically more than a two-bedroom. In fact, the rent would have been more than a monthly mortgage payment.

So, Boyle buckled down, paid off her credit cards and eliminated debt. She got by driving an old car, forgoing a car payment for something better.

“I banked my money like crazy,” she said.

She had the money together in 2010. It took her more than a year to find the south Nashua home that was affordable and wouldn’t require her children to go to different schools.

Boyle considers it both luck and a blessing that she was able to find her home.

“I can’t afford a $200,000 home, and homes in this neighborhood are typically over $200,000,” Boyle said.

If the house had been in better shape, Boyle said, she wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

Boyle said she also wouldn’t have been able to afford the home if the housing market hadn’t crashed, bringing prices down.

A joy of owning her home was that she hosted a family gathering over Christmas, something she could never do living in a cramped apartment.

It was also a way to thank family and friends who had rolled up their sleeves to help get the house ready for her to move into.

“That was awesome,” Boyle said of the gathering.

She had waited for 10 years to play host for the holidays.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or