Greta White Elk
Greta White Elk, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, lives in Warm Springs with her children and grandchildren, who are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Greta heard about the IDA program in spring of 2012, and opened her account on June 1 of that year. Originally, Ms. White Elk joined the IDA program to purchase a home. Soon after signing up, however, her son provided her with a used modular home in need of significant renovation and remodeling. When this happened, she opted to save her money not towards a new house, but to fix up the home she had been given. Greta’s goal was to make the home safer, more habitable, and more energy-efficient.
Because work opportunities on the reservation were limited, Greta found herself, over the next few years, facing challenges in saving for the renovation work. In WSCAT’s Financial Skills for Families class, however, Greta learned techniques that enabled her to spend less and save more. “The financial education classes I took at WSCAT,” she stated, “really made me conscious of my spending habits!” Greta also took WSCAT’s Repairing or Modifying Your Home through an IDA course, enabling her to better assess the baseline condition of her home and to prioritize repairs.
In May 2015, Greta began the modifications to her home. Using her IDA savings, she hired a contractor to repair the roof on her house, insulate the living room, bathroom, and laundry area, and do significant work on the bathroom flooring. She also had ceiling work done in these rooms, improving the appearance and safety of the house. According to Greta, “This work has really improved our lives. It has helped keep the heat in during winter, and helped keep us cool in summer. We are saving about $100 per month on our heating bill, which is pretty important to us.” Greta is still enrolled in the IDA program and plans to add more insulation, new skirting at the base of the home, and new windows to make the home more attractive and energy efficient.