SKHA was awarded a mini-grant to provide basic financial education to residents of the Flathead Reservation using the “Small Steps to Health and Wealth” course, with the hope that they would gain the skills and confidence to enroll in SKHA’s homeownership program.
The course challenges participants to examine their daily habits, and identify those habits which are harmful. Exploring how these habits were learned helps participants overcome them. Nicole Antoine, who taught the course for SKHA, says that it is easily adaptable, which proved useful in the classes for TLC residents. Antoine added modules on basic communications, parenting, and self-esteem.
The course was offered to two groups: residents of the Transitional Living Center in Pablo and the staff of the Housing Authority Occupancy and Resource Center. Well over thirty individuals participated in the course, over ninety-five percent of whom self-identified as Native American. Antoine found that group emotional support and positive reinforcement were key to the process of overcoming.
Several of those who completed the class have now enrolled in homeownership programs. Other positive outcomes include a participant who went on to enroll in estate planning courses from the MSU Extension Program, another who went on to enroll full time in college and move into permanent housing, another who purchased a home, and several who started checking and savings accounts.
SKHA is using grant funding to continue offering the class. SKHA’s Executive Director would like all staff trained in the course going forward, and is considering making it a requirement for all new housing services applicants. It is also exploring other funding opportunities in cooperation with MSU Extension of Lake County.