Rep. Heinrich introduces Indian homeownership bill

Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) introduced a bill on Wednesday that seeks to improve homeownership levels among American Indians.

The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act allows tribes to approve trust land leases for home sites. That cuts the Bureau of Indian Affairs out of what can be a long process.

"We can put the dream of owning a home on tribal land within reach of Native families," said Heinrich. "This bill would cut through bureaucratic red tape and open doors to homeownership for Native American families in New Mexico and across the country."

Tribal leaders welcomed the bill. "This legislation provides more of our tribal community members the chance to achieve the dream of their fellow Americans: home ownership," said Zuni Pueblo Gov Norman Cooeyate. "Access to new financial services on tribal land reduces the financial burden on our families and breaks down barriers to keeping our community intact."

"This is good legislation that improves the delivery of housing assistance and related economic development to meet the needs of Indian Country," added Marty Shuravloff, the chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council. "We heard from our members that they need these reforms and we are committed to seeing this bill signed into law this year."

The bill is H.R.2523. It was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, of which Heinrich is a member.