t’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
Glad to meet you, I’m Larry Laws, the Founder and President of First Home Alliance. The organization is a HUD-approved non- profit organization that has made a positive impact on the lives of over 18,000 households.
One of our primary focuses is teaching financial literacy and the ins-and-outs of homeownership to low-and-moderate income families with a special interest in underserved communities and military veteran families.
We also try to connect renters and homeowners with assistance funds when needed. I am a Service-Connected Disabled American Veteran and Retired United States Army Master Sergeant Retired with 24 years of Military Service.
In 1993, I completed a bachelor’s degree at Maryland University and then a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Troy University. These days, in addition to managing FHA and our initiatives, I serve as Commander of the Paul W. Mitchell, Jr. American Legion Post 114 in Manassas, Virginia.
I am also a member of the Board of Directors for Northern Virginia Chapter Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), People Incorporation of Virginia, and Virginia Housing Advisory Council. This year I also became a co-author of an Amazon #1 bestselling book called, “The Heart of a Black Man.” It’s an inspiring collection of personal stories of tragedy and triumph.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
The challenges I’ve faced started with growing up in the small town Camden, Arkansas. At 18, to help get me on a path out of this hardship, I joined the United States Army to travel and earn money for college.
While on active duty I unfortunately faced a serious false accusation that changed my life forever. In 1995, I was falsely accused of kidnapping and robbery. At that point, I’d been in the military for 15 years and had a spotless record of service.
Sadly, I was identified as the perpetrator simply because I fit a physical description. The incident, quite literally, brought me to my knees. The Class 2 felony charges carried a potential penalty of 20 years to life in prison. Thankfully, I was able to work through this challenge with a cool head and avoid any actual charges being filed. Rather than becoming a victim, I chose to create a pathway to homeownership and financial independence for myself and others.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
I founded First Home Alliance while still on active duty in the Army. I realized that rather than retire and find a job with someone else, I preferred to create a job for myself and be my own boss. At the core of this decision, was to live my passion to help others every day. I could not imagine having a better job than teaching financial literacy and helping others live the dream of homeownership while guiding families to building generational wealth.
Part of my drive came from my own mother not becoming a first– time home buyer until the age of 65. My mom would say “God made it happen.” I believe it was people doing God’s work. There are several differentiators between FHA and other HUD- approved home counseling agencies.
We don’t just offer emergency assistance, but believe education is the key to success and the first step to becoming a homeowner. So far, we’ve taught over 5,000 families how to become successful first-time homebuyers. We also believe strongly in supporting and uplifting the communities in which we all live and work. Since the mortgage crisis of 2008, FHA has helped save 3,000 families from losing their homes to foreclosure. When the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for housing counseling, we responded by opening offices in Maryland and Chicago to stop foreclosures and provide emergency rental assistance. This included helping refugees in Chicago.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success?
The best advice for readers who desire to find success is to not let yourself become a victim of circumstance or hardship! Let those challenges strengthen you to create your own reality!
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Success to me means seeking to confirm your purpose, serving your passion and reason for being, while traveling your life’s journey. It’s important to understand that life is indeed a journey and not a destination.
What’s next for you?
I’ll continue to lead and expand FHA operations to enrich our communities and help others live the dream of homeownership. Currently, I’m working to directly increase affordable housing opportunities in property management and housing development. In particular, I am working with the American Legion on a redevelopment project to build veteran and workforce housing alongside a new post home in Manassas, Virginia.
Additionally, your readers can watch me monthly on the Fairfax, Virginia cable access show called “Rock Your Block” where we speak each month with a community leader and share their story of having a positive impact on the community.
More information is available on firsthomealliance.org Lastly, we are always participating in community events, which are most often shared on our social media platforms. Most importantly, our biggest event is our Annual Financial Wellness Symposium and Awards Gala. It’s coming up on Veteran’s Day this year November 11. Tickets and more information are available here: www.firsthomealliance.org/symposium-and-gala
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
People can learn more about me at FirstHomeAlliance.org. They can also follow us on Facebook @1stHomeAlliance, X (formerly Twitter) @1stHomeAlliance, and on Instagram @firsthomealliance. They can email me at: Help@FirstHomeAlliance.org.