One year after Elmer Alvarez returned a $10,000 check made out to a broker, the once-homeless man is on his way to becoming a Realtor himself.
Last November, Alvarez found a $10,000 check on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut. It was made out to Roberta Hoskie, a Realtor and the founder of the local Outreach Realty. At the time, Alvarez was living on the street but still found a way to track down Hoskie and return the check before she even realized it was lost.
Touched by Alvarez’s efforts, Hoskie shared Alvarez’s story and found him an apartment, covering the first six months of rent. But as she had once been homeless herself, Hoskie wanted to go one step further and put Alvarez on track to a career so that he would never have to live on the street again.
“I was in a teenage homeless shelter, I came from poverty, I’ve been on welfare,” Hoskie, who will soon release a book about her journey out of poverty, told Inman. “I have to give back to those who are battling things that I overcame.”
And so, over the past year, Hoskie has been helping Alvarez pass his real estate certifications and put him on the Board of Directors of her real estate company in the meantime. They are currently waiting for the licensing board to set a date for the last test Alvarez needs to become a real estate agent. After that, they will also submit an application to make Alvarez a National Association of Realtors (NAR) member.
But Alvarez and Hoskie are already planning further into the future. After he becomes licensed, they plan to open a transitional home for homeless youths. They are now in the process of acquiring a property that they can renovate and turn into a home that can house multiple beds for those who need them — with Alvarez playing an active role in the planning process.
“Having lived in a homeless shelter, [Alvarez] saw many things that could use improvement,” Hoskie said. “We’re using his experience of being in a shelter to structure the ways ours will work.”
If things go well, Alvarez and Hoskie hope to acquire more properties to turn into transitional housing. But for now, they are knee-deep in the process of designing, setting up and launching the first one in New Haven.
“We want it to feel like a home,” Hoskie said.