In late August, Melissa Roecker walked into the first house she had ever owned.
“It felt like a big accomplishment,” she said.
Roecker, a pharmacist at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, is one of more than 100 employees who were able to become homeowners through a partnership between Christus St. Vincent and the nonprofit Homewise, which helps with down payment assistance and financing.
The hospital hopes to double the number of employees who benefit from the partnership through a second phase, spokesman Arturo Delgado said in a news release.
In addition, it recently converted what had been a $1 million loan to Homewise into a grant to boost homeownership efforts in the community.
The grant will allow Homewise to leverage its credit so it can secure up to four or five times as much in loans this year, CEO Mike Loftin said.
“We want to be able to help as many people as possible,” he said, “and that isn’t something we can do alone.”
Lillian Montoya, president and CEO of Christus St. Vincent, said in a statement on the grant, “This is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Homewise.”
She added, “Homeownership instills a sense of pride and contributes to the overall health of our employees and our community.”
In addition to helping New Mexico residents purchase homes, Homewise has been building a mixed-use development in Santa Fe, with family homes, live-work space, commercial space and community meeting rooms, Loftin said.
Over the course of his 28 years as CEO of Homewise, Loftin said, he has watched the nonprofit grow steadily.
According to its fiscal year 2019 report, the nonprofit serviced $469 million in loans, offered $6.4 million in down payment assistance and had more than $142 million in assets that year.
The grant from Christus St. Vincent may seem small in comparison, but Loftin said it will help the organization aid far more new homeowners.
Roecker lauded Christus St. Vincent for offering the support. “It’s always good to see a business give back to the community,” she said.
“I would recommend Homewise to everyone,” Roecker added.