Donald Gadson and his wife had been meaning to sort out their financial affairs when she died after a sudden illness — plunging the family and their century-old Philadelphia home into legal limbo.

Five years on, Gadson recently got matters in order with help from a legal aid organization, ensuring that the family home, which had been in his wife's name, will eventually pass to his two sons.

"A home is a place where you can start building wealth — because it's something stable, something you know," said 62-year-old Gadson.