Coalition Advocates for Native Homeownership in Washington DC

During the National American Indian Housing Council’s 2018 Legislative Conference, March 5-7 in Washington, DC, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition mobilized a group of advocates that engaged in dialogue with numerous congressional representatives and federal agencies. This year’s group of advocates demonstrated a diverse representation of reservation communities, and included Tribally Designated Housing Entities, Tribal Veterans Service Officers, and partners from Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Rosebud, Sisseton, Standing Rock, and Yankton.

During the DC trip, we met with Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Department of the Interior to discuss the Bureau of Indian Affairs residential lease, mortgage, and Title Status Report approval processes. We urged the Assistant Secretary to streamline these processes, especially the Land Title Records Offices, which are not designed to accommodate the pace of the residential real estate market.

 

Other highlights included:

Providing updates on the USDA 502 Relending Pilot, and advocating to make it a permanent program for Native communities nationwide. We shared progress on the 502 Relending Pilot, currently being implemented in South Dakota by Four Bands Community Fund and Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, with USDA Rural Development, as well as staff from Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator John Thune (R-SD), and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), who were all instrumental in launching the pilot. Senator Hoeven even mentioned the 502 Relending Program in his address to the NAIHC Legislative Conference.

Meeting with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss ways to streamline the Native American Direct Loan process in order to expand homeownership opportunities for Native American veterans on trust land. We proposed several policy recommendations that would expand outreach and assistance to Native veterans, design a loan packaging program, and pilot a relending demonstration, similar to the 502 Relending Pilot. We also advocated for these policies in our meeting with Senator Rounds’ Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs staff.

Sharing opportunities and challenges associated with Native homeownership with HUD Office of Native American Programs. We met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Heidi Frechette to advocate for solutions that would streamline processes and increase homeownership opportunities for Native Americans. Specifically, we discussed improving the implementation of HUD VASH vouchers, issues with the HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loan program, and BIA issues.

Meeting with Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Commissioner Jeannie Hovland and her staff to learning about how ANA’s programs could benefit the members of the Coalition.

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