Sakoya Blackwell

Sakoya, a member of the Maliseet tribe, began working with Four Directions in 2018 when she inquired about a home loan. Sakoya, her boyfriend Michael, and their 2 kids were renting a home on reservation, and really wanted something they could call their own.

Sakoya and Michael were facing many challenges to homeownership, which is similar to many young families across the nation. Michael was in school and Sakoya was only able to secure part-time hours. With minimal income, and two young children, putting money into a savings account was difficult. “To have circumstances that prevented us from saving money made us feel like we were failing in that aspect. At the time saving money was important to us, but a goal we couldn’t achieve at the time. The value of a savings account definitely changed while working on homeownership.”

Over the next 2 ½ years, Sakoya and Michael met regularly with a Financial Counselor from Four Directions. They learned how the financial decisions they make impact their credit and how important savings is not just to become homeowners, but also in case of emergency. Sakoya and Michael worked hard to resolve their credit challenges and engaged in the Wabanaki Match Savings program to build an emergency savings account. “It felt great to overcome credit challenges, seeing our credit score go up over time was a positive. Financial counseling played a big part in helping overcome these challenges. It was a relief to see the accounts resolved. It was a great feeling to know the debt we had was gone. Contributing to a savings account on a regular basis gave us confidence in knowing we would have a bit of financial safety. We plan to get a joint bank account that we both can contribute to on a weekly basis and continue to work on our monthly budget.”

In May of 2021, Sakoya and Michael were transferred to the Four Directions’ lending department in order to review the different loans that Four Directions had to offer. The USDA 502 loan (link?) seemed to be the best fit for their family, and in July of 2021, they were approved for a USDA loan. “The home buying process came with conflicting emotions, we were nervous because we had never gone through a home buying process before but ultimately we were very excited. When we found out we were approved for a home loan it almost didn’t feel real. We worked so hard over the years. Disappointment is nothing new to us, so hearing our hard work paid off felt like a dream. Homeownership is going to give us the chance to invest in our family. Living in an apartment you can’t grow your own garden, but having a home is going to make that possible. Our kids will finally have a yard of their own to play in. Homeownership will overall bring us a sense of freedom and security. The accomplishment is a first for the both of us. We have been so focused on obtaining this goal that we have been brainstorming our next big goal for the future.”