One third of the people who live in the City of Duluth are living in poverty or are considered to be working poor. Community Action Duluth is doing whatever it takes to help people who are struggling to achieve a better future.





FAIM Participant Stories

Jordan Shermer's Story

Jordan Shermer, home buyer with FAIM programI’m buying a house - this is something I thought I would never do. Mostly because I’ve been working in jobs that, while rewarding and adventurous, have required some thrifty living (in other words, I sleep in a bed that was a “hand me down” from my 7-year-old cousin). I have never felt poor, but, technically, I am. So when it occurred to me that in this market, with this sort of home buyers’ credit, and at this point in my life it would be wise to invest in a house, I was unsure how I could ever financially pull it off without some high risk.

The FAIM program is not only wise to point its participants to classes and counseling for equipping, it is an incredible resource for people like me who are responsible and faithful with their money and financial decisions, but simply are poor. I am so incredibly grateful for the money I’m receiving from Community Action Duluth - for the way they have so warmly welcomed me into and walked me through the process and for allowing me to be a recipient.

I am so grateful for this house and for the route I was allowed to take in getting it!

Jordan Shermer

My House Payment is over $100.00 Cheaper than Rent!

Since my rent was increasing every year and my income was not, it was becoming difficult to save money for a home, but the FAIM program helped me earn a substantial down payment for a house. While I was saving money and building my FAIM account, I attended the free FAIM budgeting classes that showed me how to build my credit score and also how it was used by lenders to determine which loans to offer.

Dennis HansenI first participated in the FAIM program to help pay for school expenses, which covered my books and university fees. After I graduated, I re-enrolled in the FAIM program to save for a house. Since I could use the FAIM money to help pay for closing costs on a home anywhere in the United States, I knew this was a good investment. Luckily, I found a job here in Duluth.
After my landlord increased my rent again, I became very motivated to look for a house.  With help from Beverly McNamee of Messina and Associates, I purchased a non-foreclosure house with a heated garage on three acres for $87,500 (it was originally listed at $114,900). Since the Wells Fargo CHAMP loan only required a 2% down payment and did not require mortgage insurance, I could comfortably afford a comfortable home.

The folks at Community Action Duluth were very knowledgeable about programs for home buyers and told me about many opportunities that I had not heard of. Now my money supports my little piece of the American dream, and not my landlord’s expensive lifestyle.

Dennis Hansen

Valerie's Story

The FAIM classes taught me to budget. I opened a savings account and saved money. I sent my son to college at St. Cloud Technical School. He’s studying to be a probation officer. He got a 3.3 grade point average his first semester - pretty good for a kid who didn’t like to read. The teachers from Duluth East pulled him a long way. I planned to use my FAIM money to start a small business, but my son’s teachers talked me into using it to send him to school. I just thought he wouldn’t go to college, but they convinced me not to think that way, to give him a chance. It’s paying off. Now I don’t think he’ll be a statistic. 

Life has been hard for us. I’m a single mother with four kids, ages 19, 14, 13 and 2. I left my abuser in Illinois and came to Duluth in 2007 to make a new start. I’ve always tried to do things for my kids. Once when they were begging me for a computer game, I stole one for them and went to jail for 30 days. That’s how deep poverty went for us. I told my kids that I didn’t ever want to do that again. 

When we came to Duluth, Community Action helped me with day care and odds and ends. I was part of Circles of Support, which was important for me because I was depressed and the meetings forced me out of my shell. The people were wonderful. Then I became part of FAIM. One of my Circle of Support Allies attended the class with me.

I worked as a telemarketer at Epic Star and then Qwest. Qwest closed, and, since my son graduated from high school, I moved to the Twin Cities because it was easier to find a job. Even though I have a college degree in chemistry that I got in Illinois, it’s still very hard for me to find a good job.  I’m working at Fashion Bug in Brooklyn Park. I continue to go on interviews and I’m hoping it will turn around. 

I’m grateful for Community Action and the FAIM program. Now there’s hope for my son.  Without FAIM, he wouldn’t have made it to college.

Sonya Welter's Story

Sonya WelterA lot of people seem surprised that I, a single woman working a retail job, could afford to buy a house, and sometimes I'm just as surprised as they are. I would have never been able to do it without the FAIM program. Putting money away in my FAIM account showed me that saving money isn't really as tough as I thought, and now I'm putting money into my own personal savings account every month. Buying a house—and doing all the necessary legwork—makes me feel like I'm a real grown-up now, and I'm looking forward to settling in here and putting down roots.

Sonya Welter