Homework Starts with Home Provides Rental Assistance and Help with Pandemic Safety
When the pandemic arrived in Minnesota, Antonia Coleman gave her family members kits with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes to ensure that they were as protected as possible from the coronavirus while on the go. Then Antonia brought the idea to work.
Antonia, who manages special housing initiatives at Wilder, and her colleague Melissa Schultz created personal protective equipment kits to help participants in the Homework Starts with Home housing program stay healthy. The kits have air purifiers, window insulation kits, disposable masks for children and adults, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers.
“In the midst of everything that's happening, we know that they don't necessarily have the access to those types of resources due to inflated prices,” Antonia says. “Subsequently, they’re also spending more time at home so we want them to have clean air to breathe.”
What Is Homework Starts with Home?
Homework Starts with Home is a statewide initiative comprising multiple partners to help students succeed academically by maintaining stable housing. Students who experience homelessness and housing instability can face significant challenges in school as a result. Wilder Family Supportive Housing Services administers rental subsidies and provides supportive housing services for families through the program, which is based on a successful rental assistance pilot that included families in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood.
The housing team at Wilder works to find creative ways to support students and families in the program. Over the summer, students in the program received summer learning kits filled with fun summer activities that promote reading, writing, STEM learning, physical activity and more. In the future, kids in the program will create books showing what their lives are like using program-provided cameras to document distance learning through their lens.
“Our goal at Wilder is to make sure that children and families have what they need to achieve their full potential,” says Nona Ferguson, Vice President of Wilder Programs. “Providing equipment to help families in Homework Starts with Home stay safe and activities to engage children in learning helps families know that they are supported during challenging times for our community.”