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Housing authority helps women develop education, employment skills

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Graduates nearly ran to receive their honors for finishing the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority Region VIII’s Family Self-Sufficiency program.

The five-year program allows qualified people to increase their personal education and employment levels with the goal of no longer depending upon any governmental assistance.

The program currently has 160 people with goals to either improve debt, find a job or save money for a down payment.

The housing authority’s executive director Justin Brooks said for every dollar a person makes in the program while employed the program matches the money and puts it in a separate escrow account until graduation.

“It’s a holistic approach to each individual person and meeting them where they are at that time,” said Brooks. “These ladies that are graduating today have worked so hard for the last five years.”

Brooks said all 23 women are graduating with a savings balance of nearly $10,000 and several are going from Section 8 rental assistance to becoming homeowners.

In total, the women saved $122, 886.

Brooks said that breaking generational curses was the most common goal for both graduates and staff.

“When you think about our graduates’ children and their grandchildren, what that’s going to look like generationally from now,” said Brooks. “How much better those future generations they’re going to do because we were able to break that cycle here.”

Along with graduates getting tokens for their hard work, Brooks’ wife handmade necklaces for the graduates’ achievements. The necklace had a jar filled with anointing oil, mustard seed and a medallion.

“I’m not sure if I can paint a better picture of what we’re celebrating today,” said Brooks. “We’re celebrating tiny little seeds that have been scattered that have been cultivated by all of these community partners. We’re celebrating all of this hard work from these ladies. It’s incredible how these seeds grown.”

Brooks said for those interested in the program to visit their website.

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