Herbert Ashton, a native Washingtonian, went from being homeless to owning his own home within five years, thanks to his own determination plus support from government and non-profit programs.

Ashton, a U.S. Army veteran, had suffered medical issues that left him homeless in June 2012. Shortly after this another veteran told Ashton about Pathways to Housing, an organization that uses the “housing first” model to house a homeless person and then bring them services. There he met David Bridges and his team who worked with Ashton every step of the way through his transition. Veterans on the Rise and other organizations helped Ashton with benefits and walked him through the Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing (VASH) voucher program.

Once Ashton received his VASH voucher, which the District of Columbia Housing Authority administers, he moved into a one-bedroom apartment. His team from Pathways helped him shop for the apartment and regularly visited him to make sure he was doing well.

“They made sure you went to the apartment comfortable. I thank Mr. Bridges and his team and my therapist, Ali,” he said. “I didn’t have the confidence or motivation and emotionally I was in bad shape. I couldn’t have gone through the process without them.”

And after his team’s regular visits, he was totally comfortable in his apartment. He lived there for about three years when he learned from another veteran that his VASH voucher could help him purchase a house.

So Ashton inquired about DCHA’s homeownership program. He attended preliminary classes with University Legal Services. He learned about the District’s Homeownership Purchase Assistance Program. He learned about the partnership with the Urban League. He had help working on his credit so that it was in good standing within four months. And he was matched up with DCHA’s Homeownership Coordinator Alice Revel and he had constructed a new support team.

“They made everything non-stressful. Everything is there for you,” said Ashton, who said he was given long lists of real estate agents, inspectors, and other contractors he would need during this journey to homeownership. “Ms. Revel took me under her wing and slow-walked me through it and made everything comfortable and easy.”

He found a real estate agent that he liked and began looking through the hundreds of available houses in D.C. Ashton said his strategy was to watch the listings daily and when a new house meeting his needs was available, he’d call his real estate agent to get a viewing as fast as possible. Revel made sure his paperwork was in order and would talk regularly with his real estate agent to make sure the process was moving along.

He had lists of phone numbers from DCHA, the Washington Urban League, and HPAP in case he had questions. If he wasn’t feeling confident enough to call one of the contractors during the process, someone from his team would assist him through it.

“They did everything to make sure it was an easy process for me, but it did turn out to be stressful as hell,” Ashton said because the back-and-forth and all of the necessary paperwork was a demanding process.

Ashton admitted that he was a little worried about the additional responsibilities he would take on with a house. He called it buyer’s remorse.

“The team convinced me it was to my advantage to buy a house and I’m glad I did,” said Ashton.

He said he enjoys the peace and quiet of his new neighborhood and no longer must listen to his apartment neighbor’s loud music all day and night. He also has peace of mind and can sit on his deck and enjoy the day, Ashton said.

“I’m investing in my future instead of paying a landlord. I’m investing in my own property,” said Ashton. He credits his teams for helping him every step of the way.

“It took a lot of organizations to come together to bring me to this point,” he said. “They made it A-B-C, 1-2-3 to get to this point. They didn’t let you make a mistake.”

He continued, “It is the American Dream. It is what everyone works hard for. Thanks to the government and everyone involved a homeless and disabled veteran was able to achieve this.”

Herbert Ashton
Last modified: 9/19/2017 11:15:31 AM