Spring is off to a great start here at NeighborWorks as one of our latest, innovative affordable homeownership opportunities, 542 Front Street has sold to Woonsocket’s lucky lottery winner, Rakema Williams!
“I started my home search back in March of 2021,” Rakema shared. “I started working with Marie Useinoki at HomeSmart Real Estate, who provided the information for the NWBRV housing lottery, which took place on December 9. We’ll close at the end of the month!”
Having spent the last decade vacant and boarded up, the newly rehabilitated two-unit Woonsocket property underwent a gut overhaul that began in 2020. Equipped with new windows, roof, siding and appliances, this energy efficient and essentially brand new home was available via lottery to prospective, pre-approved home buyers.
“542 Front Street was originally an eyesore to the community,” NWBRV Co-Director of Real Estate Development Bill Lewis said. “The idea was that we wanted to address the use of a vacant and underutilized building in the community and use it to provide housing, while making sure that it would be an environmentally sustainable development, as it hadn’t been updated since its inception in 1920.”
Rakema, a single working mother and continuing education college student, was born in St. Thomas, USVI, but has spent most of her life as a Rhode Island resident.
“Rakema is a young women that I’ve know from the Woonsocket community; I’ve known the family for many years,” said HomeOwnership Center Manager Rosalind Mitchell. “I hadn’t seen Rakema since childhood, until she came into the office with her loan approval to enter the lottery for the 542 Front Street property. To witness our Mayor pull her name was such a blessing. It has been a joy to witness her perseverance, hard work and do diligence to secure this opportunity. We here at the NWBRV Homeownership Center wish her and her family all the joy and happiness they can muster.”
“Buying a home has always been a passion of mine, but there has never really been a right time,” Rakema explained. “Something comes up or the properties were just too expensive. I didn’t want to leave Woonsocket because this area is home. My son has all his friends here and I didn’t want to take that away from him from that.”
Listed at $165,900, this affordably priced Woonsocket home offered the buyer an opportunity to own a 2,256 square foot, three story home, that’s been converted into two units. The redesign allows the buyer to live in either a one bedroom, first floor flat, or in a two story, three bed, two bath town house.
“This purchase came in at the perfect time,” Rakema said. “Both my and my mom’s apartments were just sold. Our new home will give us our own space and the kind of security that comes with not having to worry about the building being sold or the rent being increased to ridiculous extent. My mother, sister, and brother will be in one unit and my son and I will be in another unit.”
“This is a brand new home that I get to share with my family and create wonderful memories. It’s a dream come true.”Rakema Williams, 542 Front Street Homeowner
Opportunities like this aren’t possible without our much valued area partners and funders. Our gratitude goes out to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the Office of Housing and Community Development and to the City of Woonsocket for the contribution of HOME funds. These resources were essential to the rehabilitation of this abandoned property
“Without any one of these partners, this project wouldn’t have happened,” Bill expressed. “The house was so dilapidated and in need of a lot of help. It would have been an impossible project without all of these funders.”