Jackson Addresses Indian Leaders' Washington Summit
Jackson Addresses Indian Leaders' Washington Summit
HUD Loan Guarantee Program Projected to Create 1,000 New Native American Homeowners in 2006
By: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Date: February 27, 2006
Source: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Jackson Addresses Indian Leaders' Washington Summit." February 27, 2006 <http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr06 -023.cfm> (accessed May 30, 2006).
About the Author: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the primary government agency responsible for ensuring equal access to housing and for improving the quality of affordable housing in the United States.
In 1994, the Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Program was created by congressional legislation. The program was intended to assist Native American peoples in securing home ownership on designated tribal, pueblo, or trust lands. It was meant to be used for the construction of new dwellings, as well as for the rehabilitation or refurbishing of damaged or gutted sites. Individuals and families could avail themselves of the program's assistance as could Indian Housing Authority facilities.
The federal government under Title VI makes housing available to tribal or pueblo members who are recipients of Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) funds. It creates a federal mortgage loan guarantee for individuals or families wanting to build affordable or low-income housing on tribal or trust lands, somewhat analogous to that afforded by Section 184 programs.
Building upon the earlier Section 184 and Title VI programs, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) officially became law when President Bill Clinton signed the legislation in October 1996. It was codified and enacted on October 1, 1997. The overarching goal of the act is to empower Native American peoples—who have been considered to be disenfranchised since the early days of European colonization—to design their own tribal housing programs. Essentially, NAHASDA creates an administrative structure for providing grant money to tribes and pueblos, and engages with them, if they so desire, in the process of determining how they want to orchestrate their local tribal housing. It can be used in any number of ways, from low-income and affordable housing sales, to rental or condominium units, to elder housing. The program can also be used to construct buildings for specific programs, such as drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation facilities.
Section 184, Title VI, and NAHASDA programs were designed to increase the mortgage possibilities for Native Americans by guaranteeing loans for home ownership on tribal and trust lands. Tribal and trust lands cannot be owned by individuals—they belong to the tribe or pueblo. In order to build, or to own existing dwellings, the land must be leased from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Because of the property ownership issues, conventional lenders generally considered those properties to be too high-risk to fund. The offering of federal guarantees lowered the risk. The government also permits Native Americans and Tribal Housing Authorities, under certain conditions, to utilize interest-free loans for home financing, broadening the possibilities of home ownership for low-income individuals or tribal groups.
Washington— U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Native American leaders today the Bush Administration is committed to increasing the number of Native American homeowners.
Jackson addressed attendees of the National Congress of American Indians' (NCAI) Tribal Nations Legislative Summit being held in Washington. NCAI is the leading advocacy organization for Native Americans with 250 member tribes. Tribal leaders from across the country have gathered in the Nation's Capital for the next three days to meet with members of Congress and Bush Administration officials on issues important to Indian Country.
"HUD has a vital role in helping more Native Americans realize the American Dream of homeownership," said Jackson. "A family's economic independence often begins with homeownership. HUD is here to help provide this foundation by expanding innovative programs that have proven success."
Jackson spoke specifically about two HUD loan guarantee programs—Section 184 and Title VI—that are helping tribes assist members to purchase or rehabilitate homes by guaranteeing loans at 100 percent.
"These two programs coupled with other HUD initiatives will make the President's commitment to create 5.5 million more minority homeowners by the end of this decade a reality that we can all be proud of," said Jackson.
Just in the past three years, the Section 184 program has proven to be an effective tool to increase Native American homeownership. The program was created in 1994 to address the lack of mortgage lending for Native Americans. It was designed to give Native American families the opportunity to purchase their own homes. Since 1995, when HUD guaranteed its first Section 184 loan, there have been more than 2,800 loans guaranteed with a dollar value in excess of $300 million.
This year alone, HUD's Office of Native American Programs is on pace to guarantee another 1,000 loans for $120 million. The President's 2007 proposed budget includes a $2 million increase for the Section 184 program, which is currently funded at $4 million. The President's request also doubles the amount of money HUD makes available under Section 184 to back mortgages— from $116 million to $251 million.
The Section 184 program provides a 100 percent guarantee for mortgages on Indian lands, enabling private sector lenders to make mortgage loans to eligible Native American families, tribes and tribal housing entities that are purchasing homes. The program can also be used to rehabilitate existing homes, build new homes and refinance higher interest rate loans.
Previously, Native Americans participating in the Section 184 program were limited to the purchase of homes on land owned by the tribe, usually known as "trust" or "restricted" lands. As a result, Native American home-ownership opportunities remained primarily on reservations. Under new guidelines, established last year, tribes and tribal housing entities can provide Section 184 home-ownership opportunities beyond their reservations.
The Title VI program allows tribes to leverage their Indian Housing Block Grants by pledging current and future block grants to finance affordable housing activities within the tribal community such as buying and rehabilitating homes. The flexibility associated with the Title VI program also allows tribes to use the leverage funds as seed money to build facility infrastructure that support the housing, such as community centers, health clinics and public utilities. Significant changes were made to this program last year that will make it more effective. For example, HUD has created a method to shorten the processing time to guarantee loans. In 2006, the Title VI program has had the highest number of applications since its inception.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.
The fact that the land upon which dwellings are going to be built or reconstructed may not be owned by individuals is one of the aspects of Native American housing programs that make them unlike any of the other initiatives sponsored by HUD. The land, whether it is pueblo, reservation, or trust property, is all overseen by the BIA. Often, lands are held in trust for an entire tribe or pueblo, although a land trust may be held for a specific individual or family as well. When a Native American individual, family, or tribe seeks to make use of a specific land parcel for the purpose of constructing dwellings, the BIA must approve the request and grant a land lease for the property, which is known as a leasehold estate. In order for the holder of the lease to construct or rehabilitate a dwelling on the land, the individual, family, or entity must first apply for a mortgage loan with both HUD and the BIA. In the event that the loan is forfeited or defaulted, the land and home must first be offered for purchase to another eligible member of the tribe or pueblo, or to the local Indian Housing Authority. Should the loan go beyond default and end up in fore-closure, it can be liquidated by the mortgage holding company, but only to another eligible tribal or pueblo member, to the tribe or pueblo itself, or to the Indian Housing Authority that works directly with the tribe or pueblo. It may not move outside of the protected and sovereign status of the tribe or pueblo.
Native Americans who live on tribal or pueblo lands are generally located in rural areas. They have quite specific traditional, spiritual, and cultural practices involving the land on which they live, and the dwellings that they inhabit. Housing assistance programs must be designed to address those unique needs. One way of doing so is by empowering the tribes and pueblos themselves to serve as oversight agencies for local housing. Among the intentions of NAHASDA was to create the means by which tribal and pueblo authorities could design and place homes, so as to create living areas that are consistent with local needs. Another goal of the supported housing and block-grant plans is to encourage the tribes and pueblos to create long-range housing and land development plans for their local communities, to enhance the possibilities of self-sufficiency for populations that have historically been at extreme economic disadvantage.
The plans make a very clear distinction between the funding of dwellings that are designated as public housing by the remainder of the United States and Native American/Indian housing located on sovereign lands. The plans align safe and affordable housing needs with recognition of the sovereign nature of Native American lands and peoples, and they respect cultural, traditional, and spiritual concerns by empowering the Native American communities to use the funding in ways that make the most sense for their needs. HUD works in concert with the tribal and pueblo authorities to create and implement funding programs, in order to further ensure cultural sensitivity. Although the programs are very effective, there are still considerable problems with insufficient, decrepit, or inadequate housing availability on tribal lands, and there is a considerable Native American homeless population.
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