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It’s no surprise that Ivonne Martinez is ahead of schedule when it comes to buying her first home.  After all, the 25-year-old is already working on her second bachelor’s degree, balancing nursing school with a career as a Spanish-language medical interpreter at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital – she has plenty of motivation.

“Buying a house was part of my ten-year plan,” Martinez said.  “I have a good job and a good credit score…but I knew I had to save up a down payment, and that would take time.”

So when Eskenazi Health began promoting its participation in the Anchor Housing program, which includes up to $24,000 in down payment assistance for qualified employees of institutional partners, she leapt at the opportunity.

“I read about the anchor housing program on our intranet before it started, and set a reminder on my phone to make sure I wouldn’t miss out,” she recalled.  “It turned out I was the first Eskenazi employee to sign up!”

A helping hand to homeownership

Once she signed up through Eskenazi Health’s Anchor Housing online registration, Martinez quickly heard from a specialist at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP).

“Bertie [Broadhurst, an INHP Mortgage Loan Originator] called me and explained how the down payment assistance program worked, and started walking me through the next steps,” she said.  “She gave me Realtor references, the names of home inspectors, and three mortgage loan options to choose from…she made everything easy.”

The unfamiliar terms – and the legal fine print – that come with purchasing a home can seem like a foreign language to many first-time homebuyers.  But just like Ivonne Martinez helps patients at Eskenazi Health understand their healthcare issues, INHP offers an array of resources aimed at demystifying the process of finding and financing a home.

“The classes at INHP were really helpful in explaining the details, going step-by-step while Bertie was there to answer my specific questions,” Martinez recalled.  “I’m so grateful for everything they did.  I’d encourage anyone buying a home, whether you’re in the Anchor Housing program or not, to take advantage of all the resources they have to offer.”

“It felt like winning the lottery.”

Martinez looked for houses over the fall of last year, settling on a four-bedroom home on the northeast side in October.

“I felt like I won the lottery,” she said of the experience of closing on her first home.

Of course, lotteries are based on chance, and Ivonne Martinez has created her own “luck” with hard work and planning.  She currently works three 12-hour shifts a week at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, from 6:30PM to 6:30AM, while pursuing her nursing degree as part of an accelerated bachelor’s program at Marian University (another participating anchor institution).

She added house-hunting to this crowded schedule to take advantage of the Anchor Housing program (“I wasn’t sure how long it would last,” she explained) and couldn’t be happier with her new neighborhood.

“It’s a close-knit neighborhood, with lots of families.  I’m getting used to being a homeowner and adjusting to a new routine…I notice people around here mow their lawns on Saturday mornings, so I’m starting to wake up earlier to be out at the same time,” she added with a laugh.

Putting down roots

A native of Columbia, Martinez came to the U.S. with her family at eight years old, settling in Greencastle.  She stayed close to home for college, earning her bachelor’s in Exercise Science at DePauw, and came to Indianapolis to start her career at Eskenazi Health.

Now she’s eager to build a future in the heart of Indy, personally and professionally.

“I love working here,” she exclaimed.  “Part of the Anchor Housing program was making a five-year commitment to stay at Eskenazi Health, which I planned on doing anyway.”

Another condition of the down payment assistance program is agreeing to stay in the home as a primary residence for five years; Martinez planned with this in mind as she scouted potential homes.

“I want to be an OBGYN specialist nurse after I graduate from Marian,” she said.  “My new house isn’t much closer to the main hospital than my old apartment – but there’s an obstetrics clinic just a few blocks away, and other clinic site a little further on 38th Street.  So I look forward to someday walking to work.”

By increasing homeownership rates across the urban core, the Anchor Housing initiative aims to add long-term stability and spur further redevelopment in neighborhoods surrounding Indy’s major employers.  In Yvonne’s case, contributing to the health of her community isn’t just a metaphor – she’s eager to put her education and experience to work closer to her new home.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make my neighborhood better,” she said.  “It’s important to me to make a difference where I live…so I look forward to getting more involved, getting to know my neighbors better, and maybe even treating some of them as patients someday soon.”

See Ivonne Martinez in her new home and learn more about the Anchor Housing Program in this video produced by INHP; as the ‘Live’ program heads into its second year, watch for more homeownership and rehabilitation success stories like Ivonne’s.