HUD launches housing programs
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OCTOBER 16, 2000

Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Lawrence H. Summers, Secretary of the Treasury, came to Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico on Friday to announce new housing initiatives for Indian Country.

Billed together as the One Stop Mortgage Center Initiative, the new programs are designed to make it easier for tribes and Native Americans to buy homes on tribal land, where home ownership is traditionally low. While 67 percent of Americans own homes today, only a reported 33 percent of Native Americans can claim the same, according to the National American Indian Housing Council.

At Santo Domingo Pueblo, a community dating back at least 500 years, the tight housing market is just one example of the problems faced in Indian Country. Hopefully, the government believes its use of the new initiatives can be one of the models of success.

In 1995, the tribe formed its own housing authority and this year, completed a 71-unit project, the first tribe in New Mexico to do so. Cuomo and Summers participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the development, which was financed by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, one of initiatives announced on Friday.

HUD provided more than $620,000 to fund the project, which won a Best Practices Award for Creative Financing from the Department. The tribe sells tax credits supplied by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority on the free market.

The tribe will also be an example of another HUD initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide. As part of this program, HUD, the pueblo, Andersen Consulting, and the Gates Foundation will open a computer center at the pueblo, which will be the first Neighborhood Network in Indian Country.

But Santo Domingo isn't the only place where new programs are taking hold. Two mortgage centers on the Oglala Lakota Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, have already been in operation, helping tribal members make home ownership a reality.

The centers help guide visitors through the loan and mortgage process, making it quicker for future Native American homeowners to get the homes they need. At Pine Ridge, 17 mortgage loans have been closed after just one year of operation of tribe's housing authority, compared to only one the year before.

At the Navajo Nation, tribal members are being helped by a $250,000 so-called "revolving" loan from the PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. The loans will be used to purchase and rehabilitate homes on the tribe's three-state reservation.

Additionally, Native Americans in New Mexico are being lured into the banking field with the establishment of a scholarship by the New Mexico Mortgage Bankers Association. The association is offering full tuition every year to one student who is interested in becoming a mortgage banker and for those not in New Mexico, the association will offer free courses over the Internet.

Read more about the HUD initiatives:
One Stop Mortgage Center Initiative in Indian Country (HUD October 2000)

Related Stories:
HUD releases Pine Ridge Report (Enviro 08/04)
Pine Ridge report criticized (The Talking Circle 08/04)
Cuomo to dedicate Pine Ridge center (Indian U. 08/03)

Relevant Links:
Native Americans, HUD -
The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) Homepage -
The National American Indian Housing Council -