Category Archives: Housing

Strategic Connections and Housing Education in District 12

Photo of the side of a house that is made of gray wood with a stair case in front of it. The wall of the house has a window with blue shutters. Over top of the photo is the title of the blog post "Strategic Connections & Housing Education in District 12."

This month we’re highlighting Terry Clark-Jones’ strategic connections with the Washtenaw Housing Education Partnership (WHEP) in District 12. Terry is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension senior educator who provides programming on two work teams: Financial and Home Ownership Education, and Social Emotional Health.

MSU Extension was a founding member of WHEP in 2001, a partnership designed to bring together housing education providers. The group formed as a response to increased educational requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for their affordable housing programs.

Why is housing education important?

“For many potential first-time home buyers, the challenge is coming up with the up-front funds it takes to purchase a home,” Terry said. “It’s important to educate the consumer of the affordable housing programs available to them, such as Michigan State Housing Department Authority Down Payment Assistance, Federal Housing Authority, USDA Rural Development Loans, Habitat for Humanity and the Federal Home Loan Bank Home Ownership Opportunity program.  These programs also require that potential first-time home buyers participate in this education. Research done by Freddie Mac and NeighborWorks show that homeowners who participate in these classes are less likely to foreclose.”

Now, in 2017, the partnership is still going strong, growing from three to eight organizations: Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, POWER Inc., Housing Bureau for Seniors, the Washtenaw County treasurer’s office, the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and MSU Extension. How it works: participants are welcomed and registered through MSU Extension, then they attend our home ownership education classes, and then they move on to the other partner organizations depending on their needs. WHEP has made affordable housing education and programs a seamless process to provide the best and most custom service to prospective buyers.

“This partnership has created many opportunities, including referrals, increased grant funding opportunities, visibility in the community and leads to new partnerships beyond housing education,” Terry said. One funding opportunity helped to create an affordable housing program in Washtenaw County. Because of the partnership, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development received a federal grant to create a special affordable housing program in the county. It was a rehab/acquisition program where participants in a targeted income range could purchase a home and receive up to $35,000 in assistance to help with repairs and a down payment. If they stayed in the home for 20 years, the loan would be forgiven. This program lasted 18 months and helped about 30 families.

Through working with WHEP, Terry has learned that building and maintaining partnerships take a lot of work.

“Partnerships are hard to keep going and productive,” she said. “Their success can be decided by the personalities at the table. But with time and a common goal, it can be a great experience with awesome outcomes.”

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Filed under Housing, Partnerships, strategic connections

How one person leads to another: Strategic connections in District 1

Erin Carter is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator with the Extension Health Research (EHR) and Disease Prevention and Management (DPM) teams. She’s been with us since 2015 and serves our MSU Extension District 1. As part of the DPM aspect of her position, she offers programming in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, Matter of Balance, Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) and Diabetes PATH. She works with an Ishpeming 5th grade class to offer the SPartners physical activity and nutrition program.

Headshot of Erin Carter, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator in District 1.

Erin Carter, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator in District 1.

The goal of the recently formed EHR team is to serve as a model to promote partnerships nationwide between Extension and university academic faculty to advance health in all our communities. EHR offers “Are You Research Ready?” to train Extension educators to use their health programs, expertise and community connections to work closely with the MSU College of Human Medicine researchers. The team also offers “Speed Meetings” to inform statewide faculty about Extension programming so they may use our programming, our connections or both in their research.

When making strategic connections, Erin told us that she’s not quiet for long.

“When I feel strongly about something I only sit back when forced to do so. With this being said, I talk about Extension a lot, which opens doors to things I didn’t know existed or something I could be involved in,” Erin said. “It’s interesting how one person leads to another and with each relationship, positive things began to happen.”

Erin made an important connection when a person who works in health with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians approached her. He asked her to help him form a coalition at the K. I. Sawyer community.

Once a pristine U.S. Air Force base, K. I. Sawyer, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, turned rural Gwinn into a bustling small city starting in 1955. This all changed after the Base Realignment Commission of the federal government decided to close K. I. Sawyer in 1993. Upheaval of the Air Force base left behind miles of land. Air force properties sold to private individuals, companies and the Sault Tribe mostly for $1 per property. Some of the housing is vacant, but other homes are inhabited by families and individuals, many of whom cannot afford to live elsewhere.

Eighty-seven percent of students in the K. I. Sawyer School are eligible to receive free and reduced lunch. The community within K. I. Sawyer, Lake Superior Village, reports numbers of 100 percent free and reduced-lunch status. In this small section of K. I. Sawyer, the former community center has opened its doors to serve these families with volunteers within the neighboring counties. Donations have been the only means of providing services for an after-school and summer program, which offers healthy snacks.

The residents of Lake Superior Village do not have access to health care. The closest hospital is a 30-minute drive for individuals having the luxury of owning a car.

If employed, individuals usually work in service jobs earning minimum wage or just above minimum wage. Since these jobs are primarily in Marquette, workers must take public transit or drive personal cars requiring more cost and hardship.

“It only took me one visit to know this partnership was important and could do some great things in a community of need,” Erin said. “The social determinants of health talks about the importance of healthy communities and how unsafe or unhealthy communities affect everyone. If there are no programs for this community, what will happen to the outlying communities? It takes committed people willing to take the time to see the needs and begin to help the people of a community left behind.”

The coalition came together with representatives from the Sault Tribe, the YMCA of Marquette and MSU Extension. They teamed together with other local partners to offer programming in healthy food preparation, physical activity, diabetes prevention and gardening.

Erin sent us some amazing updates of the coalition’s progress:

  • A kickoff dinner brought the K. I. Sawyer Coalition idea to community leaders, police departments, city planners, early education specialists, garden experts, K. I. Sawyer community building employees, local papers and media, Marquette city professionals and community residents.
  • A new community center kitchen that will offer cooking demos and serve more people healthy food is in the blueprints stage.
  • The basketball courts are being repaved, and the MSU Extension Marquette County 4-H group is working to improve the baseball fields.
  • An abandoned hoop house at the school will be moved to make room for a garden.
  • Buses from the school will transport community residents to the events at the community center.
  • Volunteers from all over Marquette County will start a butterfly garden this summer.
  • Partnering with the Sault Tribe has increased MSU Extension programming participant numbers in the area three-fold.
  • Northern Michigan University students collaborate with us in the schools to bring healthy changes to the school’s students by encouraging physical activity.

Paul Putnam, MSU Extension District 1 coordinator, shared the results of Erin’s work.

“Erin has helped to expand our relationships and partnerships with her joint position, and has community connections in both the Houghton/Hancock and the Marquette areas,” he said. “She along with several other strong community partners are making significant impacts in a relatively short period of time.”

Erin said, “Being one of the core people to start the K. I. Sawyer coalition has made me realize how getting a few caring people together can really move a community forward. I’m fortunate I get an opportunity to see the impact a few projects can make to brighten a community and offer another type of value to people’s lives. Sometimes it feels like reaching out to make a connection takes too much time out of our schedules and remembering the value is difficult, but when this time is taken, it can really make a difference.”

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Filed under 4-H, Accomplishments, Children and Youth, Economic development, Greening Michigan, Health and Nutrition, Housing, Impacts, Native Americans, Nutrition, Partnerships, strategic connections, Uncategorized

Nature’s challenges are a call to action

The earthquake in Haiti has weighed heavily on our collective consciousness over the past few weeks, and I’m sure many of us and the people we serve have tried to reach out in ways to help alleviate the suffering of so many. This message just came through on a list-serve I follow and I thought I’d share it as another opportunity for folks to consider in helping others affected by a dangerous weather circumstance. The message is dated January 27, 2010 and originates from Ronnie Warren, USDA APHIS.

You may have heard the Dakotas had terrible ice storms this past weekend. The ice has brought down over 2,000-3,000 utility poles down on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Electricity has been out for five days (since Friday). Crews are working feverishly, but it may be out for up to 30 days in some areas. With no electricity, no heat, no running water, and a wind chill below zero the situation is growing more difficult.

The Tribal government is setting up shelters and working hard to provide for the community’s needs. The State, the Red Cross, and other Tribes are helping, but options and resources have been drained with the two most recent blizzards.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is one of the most impoverished communities in the United States. It is about the size of Connecticut: yet there are only a handful of generators on the Reservation, the water pump station is down so there is no running water, the gas stations hasn’t been able to pump gas, and the Tribal grocery store has lost all its perishables.

Please donate if you can, and pass on to others and companies that might be able to provide donations or assistance.

MEDICAL NEEDS: Dialysis Patients/Glucose Strips/Financial Support for Hotels
The dialysis patients have all been evacuated three hours away to Rapid City, SD. They are staying in hotels for at least a week and half, probably longer. The Tribe is looking into reimbursement sources from CMS and IHS, but in the interim financial contributions are needed to help the families pay for their hotel expenses and food. An account has been set up at Wells Fargo to help with these expenses. You can contribute at any Wells Fargo or send to the Rapid City branch.

CONTRIBUTIONS:
Wells Fargo
Cheyenne Dialysis Patients (c/o Dew Bad Warrior)
Acct. #: 5815904338
1615 N 7th St.
Rapid City, SD 55701

Medical Items Need on the Reservation itself (shipping address below)

  • Glucose Strips
  • First Aid Kits
  • Children’s Tylenol
  • Children’s Cough Syrup

NEEDED SUPPLIES:
A big thank you to Wal-Mart for sending some initial food and supplies!! Additional items are needed, especially for the communities whose electricity is expected to be down for up to 30 days. Please forward to any companies that manufacture these items that may be of assistance.

  • CONTRIBUTIONS: Can be made directly to the Tribe’s emergency fund listed below.
  •  IN KIND: Or if you prefer to make in-kind donations:
    •   Non-perishable food
    •   Cots
    •   Heat sources (heaters & fuel)
    •   Camp stoves & fuel
    •   Light sources:
    •   Lithium 1, 2 and 3 batteries for law enforcement
    •   Lamps/batteries/lamp oil
    •   Toiletries
    •   Toilet paper
    •   Paper products for the shelters
    •   Pampers/formula
    •   Hand/baby wipes/hand sanitizer

FINANCIAL DONATIONS:
The Tribe has depleted its emergency budget with the two blizzards that already hit the reservation since December. It needs funds to help buy food and supplies for the community and volunteers, to pay for gas and overtime for the workers, to replace the motor at the water pump station that was destroyed, etc. Any financial donations are much appreciated. The Tribe is also trying to set up on-line donations but that may take some time.

WIRE DONATIONS TO:
Cheyenne River Sioux 2010 Disaster Account
Direct to: United Bkrs Bloomington ABA # 091 001 322
Beneficiary Bank: Account Number 250 3373
State Bank of Eagle Butte
Eagle Butte, SD 57625
Final Credit: Account Holder @ UBB Customers Bank
Account Holder: CRST 2010 Disaster, Account Number 103173

MAIL CHECK DONATIONS TO:
TO: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe/2010 Disaster Account
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s Office
Attn: Ice Storm Emergency Fund
PO Box 590
2001 Main Street (Tribal Offices)
Eagle Butte, SD 57625

SHIP SUPPLIES TO:
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s Office
Attn: Ice Storm Emergency Supplies
PO Box 590
2001 Main Street (Tribal Offices)
Eagle Butte, SD 57625

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Filed under Housing, Leadership, Native Americans

MSHDA honors MSUE for foreclosure-prevention work

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most important issues facing Michigan residents during these trying economic times. I was especially pleased to be on hand when the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Homeownership Counseling Program recognized MSU Extension in Macomb and Washtenaw counties for serving their communities by offering foreclosure-prevention programming.

Anne Lilla, MSUE Macomb, and Cathy Grant, MSUE Washtenaw, accepted the awards on behalf of their respective counties. Both counties have taken the lead in developing program services that other agencies model, and have increased their capacity to meet the needs of their communities. In addition, they were praised for providing such effective mentoring to counselors from other organizations as well.

You can read more about the Macomb County program in this 2008 special report.

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Filed under Awards, Conferences, Housing