In May 2013, a series of deadly tornadoes ripped through parts of Oklahoma, leaving areas of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal jurisdiction devastated. A mobile home park approximately one mile south of the Grand Casino Hotel Resort took a direct hit, with numerous injuries and two deaths. The communities of Pink and Little Axe, home to tribal members and employees alike, also suffered damage from the twisters.
In an effort to mitigate the impact of the most extreme kinds of severe weather that are all too common in Oklahoma, Citizen Potawatomi Nation partnered with the American Red Cross to fund a limited number of residential storm shelters for tribal members residing in central Oklahoma in 2015.
The funds for the construction of those shelters, built through a partnership with shelter builders TornadoSafe, were quickly distributed. Those funds provided 92 shelters for tribal members in Oklahoma. The Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation began exploring ways to continue that program’s goal of providing shelters to tribal members and employees.
They feel they may have found one such program in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation HITS Loan Program. Though not grant funded, the loans provided via the CPCDC will help those interested in building a shelter at their residence.
“Our target audience is those who didn’t receive a shelter the first time around through the CPN-Red Cross program in 2015,” explained CPCDC Assistant Director Cindy Logsdon. “Severe weather is a constant in this state and we felt it important to help provide this loan program to members of all tribes in Oklahoma as well as employees of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.”
Like most programs at the CPCDC, the opportunity to provide a $4,200 loan for storm shelter construction also comes with an added bonus. Because it is a loan program, it provides customers with an incentive to improve their overall financial situation. Customers utilizing the Citizen Potawatomi HITS Loan Program can use its affordable 36 month maximum payment period to help improve bruised credit scores.
The loan program currently has $100,000 allotted for loans to build the shelters and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis for qualifying customers. HITS Program loans are offered through the CPCDC to all members of federally recognized tribes as well as full time CPN employees with two years of employment. All qualifiers must live in the state of Oklahoma.