Tenants throughout the Willmar Lakes Area have been empowered to better maintain their homes and develop trust and communication with their landlords. This program has developed emerging leaders with diverse backgrounds and improved the quality of life for tenants throughout Kandiyohi County.
The Willmar Area Vision 2040 Housing Subcommittee sponsored a RentWise tenant education Train the Trainer session in Willmar on April 25, 2019. RentWise, developed by the University of Minnesota Extension and delivered by community partners, helps people become successful renters. The class covers money management, tenant rights, caring for a rental, establishing positive relationships with property managers and neighbors, and using community resources to find affordable housing.
Fifteen individuals from the Willmar area (Kandiyohi, Meeker & Chippewa Counties) participated in the five hour training, representing West Central Association of Realtors, Kandiyohi County Food Shelf, PACT for Families Collaborative, Vision 2040 Volunteer, Center for Community Health Improvement, United Community Action Partnership, Community Development-City of Willmar, and Jennie O.
Using a pre and post survey, participants indicated an increase in knowledge about research related to rental education, the changing needs of participants in renter education, affordable housing, effective money management, housing needs, rental screening process and written lease agreements. They also indicated an increase in feeling prepared to teach renter education and familiarity with resources to teach tenant education.
When asked what was the most important thing learned, participant responses included:
- “Communication – Different cultures / languages take things “literal” – also may not understand who [how] to use applianances [appliances] correctly”
- “Common knowledge should not be assumed – communication is key”
- “Everything – I have never rented or thought about some of the things we discussed”
- “Document everything keep good records”
- “Reading the lease agreement wisely and using the I message when there is a problem”
Participants were also asked on both the pre and post survey how they plan to use the RentWise resources. Responses included:
- “Help tenants know responsibilities”
- “Educating clients that I work with and also learning more about new ideas”
- “Help my employees navigate the rental process”
- “Research related to rental education. To help others understand the importance of “wise” renting”
- “Possibly training however creating a class program is still going to be a challenge & time consuming”
Tenants are often presented with barriers from the very beginning of renting. The goal of Train the Trainer events is to provide individuals with a boost to overcome these barriers. A successful event will create an understanding of miscommunication (common misunderstandings) between tenants and property managers/landlords. Barriers to tenants understanding terms of their lease, responsibilities of operating, maintenance and replacement costs for basic amenities such as stove, A/C should also be overcome.
Train the Trainer will continue for the years to come as the United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) has trained its outreach staff on the three modules and shares 1:1 with clients and provides training to the community at large as needed. The University of Minnesota Extension will also have the modules available to their network of extension trainers.
Participants in the train-the-trainer are able to offer the modules to their networks and
community at large. Future customization to target audiences is planned for the future.
For additional information on the Train the Trainer events, check out the University of Minnesota Extension website.
Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 is a grassroots movement in Kandiyohi County to make our communities better than they were yesterday. Our mission is to support the dreamers and the doers in Kandiyohi County. We strive to create a better tomorrow through supporting projects that are community-minded with special emphasis on the four focus areas; Health & Wellness, Communication, Inclusion and Engagement.
Vision 2040 is a collaborative, community-led and driven initiative composed of your neighbors, friends and coworkers.