Coalition Working on Multiple Fronts to Support Native Construction Industry
Recognizing that the lack of housing stock is a real barrier to homeownership in Native communities, the Coalition is working hard to support local contractors and encourage them to build more homes. We are excited about developing the following programming to support our Native construction industry:
Construction Internship Pilot Program – Summer 2017
After hearing from contractors that finding employment-ready workers is a challenge, in summer 2017, the Coalition launched a pilot internship program to place building trades students from Oglala Lakota College with local contractors. Through the program, students on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations gained valuable hands-on construction experience, while contractors had the chance to test out potential employees in a risk-free setting. The program was managed by our Native CDFI partners – Four Bands Community Fund on Cheyenne River and Lakota Funds on Pine Ridge – who also provided financial education classes to participants. Based on input from interns, contractors, and partners, the program was a huge success; of the 11 students who completed the internship, 9 received job offers from their contractors.
Building on this success, we plan to expand to additional tribal communities in summer 2018. To learn more about the construction internship program, click below to download your copy of the program report.
Contractor Workshop – Jan 31, 2018 – Rapid City
In January 2018, the Coalition’s Veterans Committee organized a one-day workshop for contractors focused on how to work with loan products available for building on trust land. With over 65 participants and contractors from around the state, the workshop was very well attended, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
According to one contractor:
“It was a great turnout. A lot of beneficial information provided and networking.”
The day’s agenda included contractor and lender perspectives on working with the HUD 184 loan, information on the VA’s Native American Direct Loan (NADL) and USDA’s 502 loan, resources provided by Native CDFIs, and recognition of the summer 2017 interns and contractors.
Inspector Certification Training – February 27-March 2, 2018 – Rapid City
Understanding that the shortage of certified building inspectors can delay the construction process, the Coalition is also working to increase the number of certified inspectors working in tribal communities. Our goal is to have at least one certified inspector on each reservation in South Dakota. This winter, we held an intensive four-day training to prepare participants for the inspector certification exam, with the actual exam administered on the fourth day of the training. Thirty-one participants attended the training, a combination of independent contractors and housing authority staff. The training was conducted by the International Code Council (ICC), who sent their top instructors to work with our Coalition participants. Feedback about the training was extremely positive; in the words of one participant, “the training was extremely helpful and I appreciate the opportunity to participate.” Another participant stated, “I liked the training – best one I have been at.” Recognizing the value of building codes in providing safety standards, a number of participants have requested support to promote the adoption of building codes in their tribal communities.