Friday, March 24, 2023

Reservation-wide housing survey completed

Daily Inter Lake | March 9, 2023 12:00 AM

The Salish and Kootenai Housing Authority completed a reservation-wide housing survey and homelessness study in February that aims to pinpoint housing issues in the area. The results will become publicly available after officials review the results.

By working with Big Water Consulting to address the housing crisis facing the Flathead Indian Reservation the housing authority hopes to collect actionable data through the Housing Needs Assessment, the Salish Kootenai Housing Authority’s website said.

The Needs Assessment is funded in part by the Montana Healthcare Foundation and focuses "on the intersection of housing and health to promote creative solutions to the challenges facing the communities of the Flathead Reservation,” the website said.

Participants include stakeholders from both incorporated and unincorporated communities including Polson, Ronan, Arlee, Hot Springs and St. Ignatius.

Jody Perez, executive director of the Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority, said she received the final draft in February, but will not be able to disclose any of the information until the CSKT Tribal Council reviews it.

Perez created the Flathead Housing Coalition, which first convened in November 2021, with the purpose of addressing the regional housing crisis facing communities on the Flathead Reservation. Perez said the coalition helped gather the surveys.

“It was not as responsive as I thought," Perez said. "A lot of people didn’t want to take it, and so I’m sure there was a large margin for error.”

The estimated response rate was 64%, and a census often has a minimum of 70% Perez said. Still, this survey will provide a lot of information about the reservation and Perez plans to bring it before the tribal council sometime in March.

The survey also will also help assess homelessness on the reservation.

“We also did a homelessness study, a doubled-up one, because our tribal people let our families and friends live with us on a temporary basis instead of leaving them unsheltered,” Perez said.

She added that the survey was supposed to end in November but the housing authority was still receiving responses in February, and had not yet begun to dissect the information from the study.

“We had 300 responses and over 200 of them were for tribal members on our reservation," she said. Many reported "living with people for various reasons and so we wanted to wrap our heads around why.”

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