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From living in a shelter to buying her own home: Union Plus helps union member construct a new life

Posted on June 12, 2015
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When Natassia Watson left her home in Jamaica to seek asylum in the United States, she found the only haven open to her was a New York City homeless shelter. Alone in a foreign country at age 19 without a steady job, a friend to lean on, or even a place to sleep,

Watson promised herself, in the depths of despair, that she would return to school, get a good job, and attain the American Dream of home ownership.

After becoming a trailblazing member of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the recipient of Union Plus® Mortgage program benefits, Watson has honored her promise and is rolling out her own "Welcome" mat as a proud home owner.


Becoming a proud home owner

Watson's pact with herself was a bold one to make considering her situation, but the fact that home ownership in the U.S. is becoming increasingly more elusive, even for middle-aged Americans who have worked in this country for years, made the challenge even more difficult.

"I'm proud to say I am a homeowner," says Watson, now 26. "I finished school [a comprehensive construction course specifically designed for women] at the top of my class, which helped me land a great job as a steam mechanic. The job, in turn, provided a great union, which offered great perks. One such perk was the prospect of obtaining a mortgage through the Union Plus Mortgage program."

The Union Plus Mortgage program, with financing available through Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, has provided $43.6 billion in mortgages to help more than 200,000 union members and their families buy or refinance a home. It is packed with unique benefits tailored to meet the needs of active or retired union members, as well as their parents and children, who want to buy or refinance a home. Union members who are first-time buyers, like Watson, even have the opportunity to receive a $500 First-Time Home Award from Union Plus.


Some of the other benefits of the Union Plus Mortgage program include:

  • Hardship Assistance:  Union Plus Mortgage Assistance helps members and their families who are unemployed, recently disabled, on strike, or locked out make their mortgage payments with interest-free loans and grants. Mortgage Assistance has provided almost $10 million to help members keep their loans current and stay in their homes.
  • Award Card: Union members and their families may receive a $500 Wells Fargo My Mortgage GiftSM award card after closing on a purchase or refinance loan.*
  • Incentive for First-Time Home Buyers: Union members who are first-time buyers can apply for a $500 First-Time Home Award from Union Plus. Active or retired union members who used the Union Plus Mortgage program to purchase their first home are eligible to apply. They simply need to fill out an application and provide a short, written description of their Union Plus Mortgage program experience and why home ownership matters.

Making her new house a home in New York

Watson used her $500 First-Time Home Award to help finance a year-long "DIY" home improvement project. The two-bedroom co-op in Westchester County, N.Y., was an ideal purchase, but it turns out it still needed work.

"I tore down kitchen cabinets, replaced appliances, and renovated bathrooms!" says Watson.

"The renovation to my home cost a lot, but I was fortunate to be able to do the work myself. But I wouldn't say I did it alone; the $500 I received from the Union Plus First-Time Home Buyers program definitely helped."

In addition to keeping her promise of home ownership, Watson has also managed to achieve her other goals. She works full-time, becoming the first female lead steam mechanic in the history of her local union, and takes classes in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree. 

Learning more about member benefits through Union Plus

Now that she's familiar with Union Plus, Watson is eager to turn her sights on a new pursuit and check out other Union Plus benefits. In particular, she's interested in discounts on vacation packages. "I work hard and I study a lot, but I think I deserve a chance to get away," says Watson. "I'm glad Union Plus discounts help to make getaways more affordable."

Thanks to Union Plus, Watson can get away, but, more importantly, she can return from that trip to a permanent safe haven: her own home.

Union Plus provides a full array of consumer discounts, services, and special programs (including educational scholarships) to enrich the lives of working families. Click to learn more about Union Plus discounts and programs >>


*Eligible individuals can receive the Wells Fargo My Mortgage GiftSM promotion in the amount of $500.00 approximately 6 weeks after closing on a new purchase or refinance loan secured by a first mortgage or deed of trust with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, subject to qualification, approval and closing, when identifying themselves as eligible under the Union Plus Mortgage program.
The My Mortgage GiftSM promotion is not available with any Wells Fargo Three-Step Refinance SYSTEM® program, The Relocation Mortgage ProgramSM or the HOME program. Only one award permitted per new loan. This promotion cannot be combined with any other promotion, discount or rebate. This promotion is void where prohibited, transferable, and subject to change or cancellation with no prior notice. Gifts may constitute taxable income. Federal, state and local taxes, and any use of the gift not otherwise specified in the Terms and Conditions provided at receipt of gift are the sole responsibility of the My Mortgage GiftSM recipient. Please see Terms and Conditions document for more information.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. © 2015 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801


Member Comments

On 03/26/14 anonymous said:

Very happy for Ms. Watson. God bless her.

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