Katherine and Ignacio became homeowners

“Home ownership is only impossible if you don’t get on the right path. Get informed, understand the process, get your finances in order and figure out what you can afford. And contact Coastal Housing Partnership!”
– Ignacio Ponce and Katherine Firkins


Katherine Firkins and Ignacio Ponce at their home in Santa Barbara, Ca.  The couple tapped the educational resources and the Network Partners of Coastal Housing Partnership to help them buy their first home.  Ignacio’s employer, Santa Barbara City College is an Employer Member of Coastal Housing Partnership.

Ever since Ignacio Ponce started working for Santa Barbara City College, he and his partner Katherine Firkins (who works for Cal State Northridge) had the desire to own their own home in Santa Barbara. Despite their desire to own in the city where he works, there was always this thought in the back of their minds: “Will we ever have to move somewhere else where housing is more affordable?” Through Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) coworkers, the couple heard about Coastal Housing Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the community by assisting local employees with their housing needs. SBCC is an Employer Member of Coastal Housing Partnership (CHP); all SBCC employees have free access to their free education, resources and the network of professionals to assist in the home buying process.

“We always wanted a home in Santa Barbara, but because we were not familiar with the process, we had a lot of doubts. We always thought it would be more expensive than it actually is. We attended a Coastal Housing Partnership home buying seminar in 2011. We learned a lot about the process and although we realized weren’t quite ready, the information we got from the seminar reassured us we could do it. Every time we asked for information, we always got a prompt and very professional response. This always made us feel more confident during the whole process.”

Katherine Firkins and Ignacio Ponce bought their condominium in Santa Barbara in July of 2013. “We love that our home is actually ours and no one else’s! We love that we are actually investing our money rather than paying rent. For us it is a huge achievement. We know it may sound cliché’, but it really feels like “home sweet home” every time we walk in the front door. The wealth of information we got from CHP, their guidance and all the discounts are invaluable. We look back at what the real estate agent credited, the waived closing fees and home inspection discounts and we really see the savings. All the partners worked on our behalf so we could save even more money over the life of our mortgage.”

Coastal Housing Partnership helps Employer Members address the challenge of attracting and retaining employees in an area with high housing costs by providing housing benefits to the employees of member companies. This full-service housing benefit includes home buying education seminars, home buying resources and savings as employees navigate their way through the home buying process, mortgage refinance benefits and rental benefits. “Getting on the path to home ownership requires having the right education, tools, and resources to be a competitive buyer.” says Corby Gage, Executive Director of Coastal Housing Partnership. “We have helped local families realize their dreams of home ownership for over 25 years, helping companies and organizations meet the challenge of attracting and retaining employees in a region with some of the highest housing prices in the nation. Seeing Katherine and Ignacio in their new home is so wonderful. It inspires us to do what we do.”

“We really appreciate our employer (SBCC) offering this home buying benefit. By offering this benefit it shows the commitment they have to their employee’s well-being. Our jobs are already very rewarding and SBCC helping make our dream of home ownership reality is just the icing on the cake. We honestly wouldn’t have known where to start. The fact that CHP was available to us made a big difference.”
 – Katherine Firkins and Ignacio Ponce

Coastal Housing Partnership started in 1987 as a first-time home buying program, providing financial assistance programs. Over the years, the organization has grown to also serve move-up buyers, as well as those getting back into the market. Coastal Housing Partnership helps Member Employers address the challenge of attracting and retaining employees in an area with high housing costs, by providing a full-service housing assistance benefit including:

• Home buying education seminars;
• Home buying resources to employees as they navigate their way through the home buying process;
• Home buying benefits to the employees of member companies;
• Mortgage refinance benefits
• Rental housing assistance benefits
• A network of service professionals to assist employees in their search for area housing, whether leasing or buying.

More than 9,000 employees have attended Coastal Housing home buying seminars in the past fifteen years, and Coastal Housing Partnership has helped more than 10,000 employees become homeowners since its inception. Coastal Housing Partnership Membership is open to Santa Barbara County and Ventura County employers who want to offer their employees a full service housing assistance benefit in a cost-effective way.