“I’d always wanted to buy a house,” said Ehrlich, but she hadn’t been sure how that would be possible. (Courtesy April Ehrlich)
“I’d always wanted to buy a house,” said Ehrlich, but she hadn’t been sure how that would be possible. (Courtesy April Ehrlich)

April Ehrlich has never lived in the same spot for more than two years. “I grew up with lots of instability,” said the 30-year-old, whose single mother moved the family frequently. As an adult, Ehrlich’s nonprofit work kept housing in flux.

That’s about to change. On Jan. 15, Ehrlich and her partner, Walter Fonseca, 35, were handed the keys to their fixer-upper — purchased with hard work and the aid of a Catholic Charities-run program.

The nonprofit’s Family Success Center offers clients financial education, financial coaching and asset-building, helping support goals such as first-time home-ownership.

Ehrlich and Fonseca received intensive coaching from Molly O’Donnell, center director. They discussed financial aspirations and learned to create personalized budgets.

After three months of working with O’Donnell, they were enrolled in Catholic Charities’ matched savings program, were the couple’s monthly deposits were matched at a 3-to-1 rate, allowing them eventually to purchase their three-bedroom home in the town of Talent.

“I’d always wanted to buy a house,” said Ehrlich, but she hadn’t been sure how that would be possible. Ehrlich and Fonseca have had meaningful jobs focused on service — Fonseca is a legal aid attorney; Ehrlich worked for AmeriCorps VISTA and now is employed with a local public radio station — but not lucrative careers.

They are part of a demographic O’Donnell hopes will take advantage of Family Success Center services.

“This program offers effective intervention to move people out of poverty,” but it also extends beyond that, said O’Donnell.

“There are those in the middle class living paycheck to paycheck” or unable to achieve their goals, she said. This can be due to common economic challenges, such as college debt and the cost of housing, as well as gaps in fiscal literacy.

She wants people to know that the center is for everybody. “There are no requirements except the desire to do the work,” said O’Donnell, commending Fonseca and Ehrlich for their effort to set aside money, stick to a budget and fulfill a dream.

“It’s hard to know how to express our gratitude to Catholic Charities when you’ve received something so great — a home,” said Ehrlich. “I hope we can stay here as long as possible.”