Single Mom Overcomes Obstacles to Provide Home for Son with Down Syndrome


Housing Counselor Successfully Negotiates Mortgage Modification to Avoid Foreclosure

Washington, DC – June 17, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — National Homeownership Month is the ideal time to remind Americans that owning a home represents much more than a mortgage. Tia Early, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE) Housing Client of the Year, is the picture of what a mother will do to provide a home for her son, redefining perseverance along the way.

Tia Early is no stranger to tackling tough situations and making the best of them. In 1999, when she was 8 months pregnant with her son, Hurricane Floyd came to Florida. She packed her car with her critical belongings, loaded up the dogs and went to a friend’s house in Georgia. Coming home a week later, she was grateful that her rental home did not sustain any damage.

She was also grateful that she returned home when she did, as her son, Nicholas, decided to arrive a month early. As a single mom, she was ready for the challenge of motherhood. However, that challenge took on a new meaning when she was told that her baby boy had Down Syndrome. Not missing a beat, Tia took the news in stride and vowed at that moment that Nicholas would always have the best opportunities she could provide. Those opportunities included a home of their own.

By 2002, Tia was working as a computer programmer and making a salary of $65,000 per year. Keeping her eye on the prize of homeownership, she saved for her down payment, set money aside for emergencies and established a solid budget for her house payment and maintenance. She was proud when she and Nicholas moved into a home they loved and could afford.

But her company decided to downsize and outsourced all the programming functions. Tia immediately slashed her budget to the bare minimum and started looking for work. Determined not to use her severance, she found a new job within a month. Although the new job paid substantially less, $40,000, Tia persevered taking on additional assignments and tasks at work. Her employer quickly realized her value and she received regular salary increases and bonuses. She monitored her budget closely and continued to maintain her emergency savings account.

Then the economy dealt Tia an unwelcome blow. In 2008, as the economic crisis loomed, Tia was laid off again. Familiar with the drill, she immediately slashed her budget and started looking for work. This time, however, the best salary she could command was $30,000 annually.

Although many people would have considered giving up, these setbacks made Tia even more determined. By now, she and Nicholas had survived a lot, so it was no time to quit. She had done all she could on her own, but she was four months behind on her mortgage and knew she needed professional help finding a solution. That’s when she turned to NFCC member agency, Family Foundations, in Jacksonville, FL.

“I had to have a home. I have a special needs child so I can’t just live at a homeless shelter,” said Tia. “Rent was just as much as a house payment, so I didn’t know how I was going to make it. That’s when I went to Family Foundations.”

Tia worked closely with John Doyle, her Housing Counselor, to obtain a mortgage modification. Despite being turned down multiple times over an 18-month period, Tia and John kept persevering until they finally achieved a modification that was affordable and sustainable with her new salary.

Tia and John did not limit their action plan to simply looking for foreclosure prevention relief. They took a holistic approach to her situation and jointly developed a comprehensive plan for her to not only achieve financial stability now, but to reach her long-term goals. Together, they determined that the computer programming field might not offer the job stability she so greatly needed, thus an alternate career path was in order.

Having her mortgage modified to a manageable level gave Tia the freedom to pursue a new career. She decided that she wanted to work in a field where she could directly help those in need, and because of her experience with her son, she had first-hand knowledge of the impact she could make on the lives of those who are not able to fully take care of themselves. Having determined that nursing was the right career path, she began classes and obtained work as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing care facility close to her home, and is now attending college to become a Registered Nurse, working full time and taking care of her son.

Tia is thankful that her counselor at Family Foundations provided her with more than a short-term plan to relieve her immediate crisis, but also helped her construct life goals. She is confident that her new career will provide her with the long-term stability she has so desperately sought all these years, a stability that will allow her to raise her son to make the most of his life.

Tia has advice for others who may find themselves struggling to make their house payment. “Take the step to seek help. You will be in control of your finances instead of your finances controlling of you. It is not taboo to get help. You have to put pride aside and just do it.”

“Tia is a wonderful example of perseverance through difficult times,” said Dawn Lockhart, president of Family Foundations. “What impresses me most is how she followed every detail of her Personal Action Plan in order to build a long-term solution for her future and for her son’s future. Her new career as a Registered Nurse means she will have stable income and she now knows how to manage every aspect of her expenses.”

NFCC member agency professionals are experts at helping people get into the house of their dreams and stay there. A house is usually a person’s largest investment. It’s also where memories are made. To ensure that you make a smart buying decision, or for foreclosure prevention solutions, take Tia Early’s advice and reach out for help to an NFCC member agency. To be automatically connected to the agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or to find an agency online, visit

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit Visit us on Facebook:, on Twitter:, on YouTube: and our blog:

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