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UA Little Rock alum becomes homeowner through University District affordable housing program

UA Little Rock social work graduate Cadie Foscue bought her house in the Oak Forest neighborhood through the University District first time homebuyer program. Photo by Ben Krain.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate has achieved her dream of becoming a homeowner with the help of the University District’s First Time Homebuyer Program. 

Cadie Foscue, a May graduate of UA Little Rock’s Master of Social Work program who now works as a social impact analyst at the Good Grid in Little Rock, had dreamt of the stability of a permanent home ever since she was a child. 

“As someone whose parents are divorced, I grew up traveling between houses,” Foscue said. “The finality of owning a home and not having to worry about where I am going to live next year is freeing. Having a home offers you stability and freedom.” 

The path to homeownership for many Millennials is often delayed by student loan debt and low starting wages. The homeownership rate among those ages 25 to 34 is 8 percent lower than the baby boomers and 8.4 percent lower than Generation X, according to research from the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center.

The need-based First Time Homebuyer Program addresses the affordable housing crisis by providing first-time homebuyers up to $20,000 for down payment and closing costs to purchase a home constructed or renovated by University District. The First Time Homebuyer Program is financed through the city of Little Rock with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD HOME Program.

“We believe that anyone making a prevailing wage should be able to live in University District at an affordable price, and we work with all the neighborhood associations who make up University District to make this a reality,” said Barrett Allen, executive director of University District. 

Foscue, who closed on her home on Aug. 17, purchased the 1,400-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two baths for $125,000. She received a $15,000 subsidy from University District that covered her down payment and closing costs, costs that might have prevented her from owning a home for many years. Now, Foscue is the proud owner of her home in the University District’s Midtown Neighborhood, northeast of UA Little Rock’s campus, where she lives with her miniature Doxin Dachshund, Jessie, and two cats, Ashe and Moira. 

“The program allows for young people like me to live in more affordable houses in the district. I think that’s really beautiful,” she said. “I already feel like part of the neighborhood, and I love it when people say, ‘Hi Cadie,’ as I drive in my car with the windows rolled down.” 

Foscue learned about University District’s housing program last year after Laura Danforth, UA Little Rock assistant professor of social work, sent Foscue and her class to Allen to find out about local community organizations where they could volunteer. 

“In my macro social work course, student groups are able to engage in transformative, experiential learning by partnering with a local community agency to help facilitate organizational or community change-effort planning,” Danforth said. “Students in the past couple of years have helped develop a database for the trauma-informed child care center at St. Luke’s Methodist Church and have worked with the University District office to increase UA Little Rock faculty engagement in non-traditional service learning projects. These students are passionate and hungry for experience, and the community partners within the University District have been great to work with!” 

Foscue’s group volunteered with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church to research adverse childhood experiences. 

“We got connected with St. Luke’s because we wanted to work with people who had experienced adverse childhood experiences,” Foscue said. “They are running a program to help people in the area who experienced childhood trauma. We wrote a paper on how adverse childhood experiences impact people on a multi-generational level.”

During this time, Foscue met Allen and learned about the district’s efforts to support affordable housing in the area. 

“Earlier this year, my lease was coming up, and I was fantasizing about buying a home since I was about to graduate,” Foscue said. “I was so impassioned by working with University District during my social work project. I remembered that University District had just finished building some houses, but I had never seen them. I searched Zillow and marked three of my favorite houses in the area. I remember thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if they are the University District houses?” 

It turns out that one of the Foscue’s favorite houses was a University District house. In fact, Foscue only toured one home with her realtor, Kerrie Joiner, because it was love at first sight. 

“I went and saw the house, and I was in love with it,” Foscue said. “We didn’t even look at the other two I marked on Zillow. Driving around the house, I knew it was the right choice.”

Now that Foscue has the home of her dreams, she said her priorities have shifted, and she’s now focused on maintaining her home for the future. 

“I take a lot of pride in owning a home,” she said. “One of my friends said the definition of being an adult is owning a home. It does shift your priorities. Instead of saving money for a vacation, my primary focus is to save money for maintaining my home and making it my own. I know I want to go to Disney World. Instead of going on a vacation that will be fun for a week, I’ll buy a fence that will hopefully last forever. Then I can get another dog. That is just as good as Disney World.”