By Stephen Ide

For Edmarie Cancel Batista, owning a place of her own is a dream come true. When she left Puerto Rico three years ago, she never thought she would end up a homeowner.

On September 3, 2021, she recently became the owner of a live/work property at 191 Manton Ave., in Providence. The single mother of a 3-year-old boy, Batista has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and couldn’t find work in Puerto Rico. So she came to the United States to seek better opportunities.

Batista, who now works as a security monitor for a company in Massachusetts, bought the townhouse, the first of four in the complex, with the help of ONE Neighborhood Builders and Rhode Island Housing.

It took her five months to find a home, starting her search in January of 2021. By May, when she saw the property, she said she thought it was too good to be true.

“When I saw the price, I said, ‘There’s probably something wrong here,’ so I contacted my Realtor, who said, ‘Oh yes, it is real because Rhode Island has some help for new purchasers.’”

That help is possible because of a deed restriction that allowed her to qualify for a mortgage based on her income, while also providing affordable housing and commercial/flex space that she can use or rent out. Other restrictions include that she must live in the main unit and if she wants to sell, it must be to a person with a qualifying moderate income.

“Thank you, ONE Neighborhood, for making my dream come true.”

— Edmarie Cancel Batista

Her Manton Avenue property includes a two-bedroom, owner-occupied townhouse and a one-bedroom apartment that must be rented to someone who has an income under 60% of the area’s average median income. Batista bought the property at below market rate — for $240,000 — qualifying at under 120% of average median income.

Batista said she doesn’t know what she’ll do with the commercial space yet, though she is considering two options: either a clothing store or child care. And she has never been a landlord before.

“It’s a challenge and completely new for me,” she said. “I’ve been looking on the internet for information about it. I called my Realtor and asked if he can help me with that and to find tenants.”

Batista had begun searching for a house in Massachusetts, tiring of paying rent herself.

“I prefer to have my own house and pay the mortgage for me,” she said. But it’s a hot market, making it difficult for a first-time homebuyer to outbid others. She said the process of finding and buying a house is stressful, but the help she received from ONE Neighborhood Builders and Rhode Island Housing made it easier.

“So, when I saw this program, wow,” she said. “I can’t express in words how I feel right now. … I just [came] here alone. I [left] all my family and friends … and now, I have my own house.

“Thank you, ONE Neighborhood, for making my dream come true. Thank you because, through me, I will be able to show that being a single mother and with a minimum salary, we can achieve the dream of having our own home.”

For more information about purchasing other available Manton Avenue properties, contact Belinda Philippe at (401) 529-0888.