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HUD No. 99-114
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeJuly 7, 1999


See Details Of President Clinton's Indian Country Initiatives

PINE RIDGE, SD - The Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with Indian tribes and outside businesses to implement initiatives announced by President Clinton today to improve housing, increase homeownership, create jobs and educational opportunities, and spark economic development on reservations across the United States.

President Clinton, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and other federal officials visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota today - home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe - and spoke to a Native American Homeownership and Economic Development Summit about the initiatives.

"The descendants of the first Americans shouldn't be locked out of the American Dream," Cuomo said. "President Clinton has come to Indian Country to begin a new partnership with tribes to bring them opportunities to benefit from our strong economy with improved housing, increased homeownership, new jobs, and brighter futures."

The President's new Indian Country initiatives that HUD will help implement include:

  • A partnership with private lenders to issue enough new mortgages to create 1,000 additional Indian homeowners on reservations around the nation over the next three years, doubling the number of government-insured or guaranteed home mortgages issued in Indian Country during the period. HUD, the Treasury Department, tribal governments, businesses and other federal agencies will work together to streamline mortgage lending on Indian lands and will open One-Stop Mortgage Centers on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and the Pine Ridge Reservation.

  • A commitment by municipal securities underwriters Banc One Capital Markets and George K. Baum & Co. to underwrite $1.5 billion in bonds that will be used to help finance new mortgages in Indian Country. In cooperation with the initiative, HUD will increase homeownership on reservations through the Targeted Lending Initiative run by Ginnie Mae, which is part of HUD.

  • A HUD-Oglala Sioux Partnership to expand Indian homeownership in South Dakota by helping homebuyers get mortgage financing and by building affordable housing. Fifty new houses will be completed on the Pine Ridge Reservation by early 2000 for sale to homebuyers.

  • A program called Homeownership South Dakota to provide HUD insurance and securitization for $650 million in home mortgages throughout South Dakota to increase homeownership.

  • $1.6 million in new rural housing and economic development grants to benefit reservations in South Dakota. A total of $8 million in such grants went to tribes around the country.

  • An alliance between members of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America and Indian tribes to promote Native American homeownership through new counseling, education and financing programs. The companies will insure $37 million in mortgages on reservations.

  • Job training and educational opportunities for tribal students to enable them to learn skills needed to create housing and start new businesses. MetLife, Microsoft, the Gateway computer company, Owens Corning, the North American Steel Framing Alliance, Worthington Industries, and Amity, Inc. will provide these opportunities.

  • Placement of a HUD computer on the Pine Ridge Reservation to link residents to information on the full range of HUD programs through the Internet.

Today's summit - organized by HUD and the Oglala Sioux Tribe - attracted hundreds of tribal representatives, lenders, executives of major corporations, home builders, and housing and economic development experts from around the nation. The summit is the first conference HUD has held on a reservation, and is also the second of two designed to improve life on reservations. The first summit was held in March in Chicago.

Pine Ridge was the fourth stop on President Clinton's New Markets Tour of six urban and rural communities where unemployment is too high and jobs are too scarce. Corporate and governmental leaders are joining the President on the tour, during which he is announcing new initiatives to bring economic opportunity to places left behind.

Cuomo visited the Pine Ridge Reservation last August to examine its severe housing and economic development needs. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, about 75 percent of the adults on the reservation are unemployed. An estimated 4,000 families need homes. In some cases, three or four families share a single house.

Indian tribal lands, which have some of the most severe shortages of housing and jobs in the United States, are home to about half of the 2 million Indians in this country.

Over 40 percent of the housing on tribal lands is considered substandard - six times the rate for the rest of the United States. On reservations, 21 percent of homes are overcrowded - nearly 10 times the proportion elsewhere.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, unemployment on Indian reservations around the nation averages about 50 percent, compared with the national unemployment rate running at 4.2 percent in May.

Today homeownership is virtually non-existent on reservations because: 1) Lenders are often reluctant to approve mortgages for the purchase of homes on land held in trust by the federal government for tribes. 2) Federal regulations and paperwork slow down and complicate the process of obtaining a home mortgage. 3) Tribal families lack homeownership counseling to help them with financial planning, credit, downpayments and other issues involved in the mortgage process.

HUD initiatives will help solve the housing crisis on reservations by finding ways to build affordable, quality homes and encourage homeownership and business investment. HUD is working to achieve these goals through a partnership with tribal leaders called Shared Visions, which is developing a model that can be applied to reservations around the country.

Shared Visions will make it easier for Indians to obtain mortgages by: 1) Establishing non-profit groups to provide financial help and build affordable housing. 2) Encouraging innovative uses of private and public loan products. 3) Streamlining federal regulations. 4) Improving coordination among federal agencies, the tribes, and the private sector.

Tribal leaders, federal agencies, lenders and financial institutions, home builders, housing organizations, community groups and faith-based groups are working together on Shared Visions.


Here are details of Indian Country initiatives announced today by President Clinton that are being spearheaded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tribes and businesses:


HUD will work with the Mortgage Bankers Association and mortgage lenders including Countrywide Mortgage, Banc One Mortgage and Norwest Mortgage to increase the number of home mortgages issued on Indian reservations nationwide to create 1,000 new Indian homeowners over the next three years. This will double the number of government-insured or guaranteed home mortgages issued in Indian Country during this period. MBA and lenders will provide training to tribally sponsored non-profit entities to increase their capacity to originate mortgages. HUD will help prepare training programs. Lenders will also operate homeownership counseling programs to help Indians become homeowners and will track the number of new mortgages closed on reservations. HUD, the Treasury Department, tribal governments, businesses and other federal agencies will work together to streamline mortgage lending on Indian lands and will open One-Stop Mortgage Centers on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and the Pine Ridge Reservation.


Banc One Capital Markets and George K. Baum & Company - two of the nation's largest municipal securities underwriters - have made new commitments to underwrite $300 million in bonds per year for five years to create a market for reservation mortgages. The bonds will raise $1.5 billion to be loaned to tribes, tribal housing authorities and individuals for home purchases. Such bond offerings are used by states and cities to fund new housing and development projects, but until now have been largely unavailable to Native Americans.

The new commitments make Banc One and Baum the largest firms to announce plans to do business in Indian Country. If fully utilized, the $1.5 billion would greatly expand the amount of capital loaned for housing on Indian lands. Baum has already discussed four projects with tribes: a $2 million deal with the Indian Housing Authority of Central California to construct 20 single-family homes; a $7.5 million deal with Cook Inlet Housing Authority in Alaska to construct up to 50 homes; a $10 million deal with the New Mexico Pueblos to construct 100 homes; and a deal with the Cherokee Nation that could total $8 million or more. In addition, the qualifying mortgages loaned with these funds may be placed in Ginnie Mae securities. This will improve the credit rating of the bonds, lowering the interest rates that Native Americans will pay on their mortgages.

In cooperation with the initiative, HUD will increase homeownership on reservations through Ginnie Mae's Targeted Lending Initiative. Ginnie Mae, which is part of HUD, increases the supply of affordable housing by guaranteeing securities issued by private lenders and backed by pools of residential mortgages insured or guaranteed by the U.S. government. The Targeted Lending Initiative will reduce the interest rate on mortgages in Indian Country by cutting fees that mortgage lenders pay to place their loans in Ginnie Mae securities by up to 50 percent. The program provides a strong incentive for mortgage lenders to do business in Indian Country and for the first time will give Native Americans access to mainstream mortgage capital markets. The program is now available only for Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.


HUD and the Oglala Sioux Tribe have formed a non-profit group called the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership For Housing, Inc., to expand homeownership opportunities for Native Americans throughout South Dakota. The partnership has been initially funded by a $2 million grant provided earlier by HUD. The new group will: 1) Provide homebuyers with housing and credit counseling, along with information about financing, home improvement providers and affordable housing programs. 2) Provide some financing. 3) Act as a housing developer on the Pine Ridge Reservation. To ensure the success of this venture, HUD is funding two years of technical assistance to the new group by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The assistance will include developing loan products, providing counseling, conducting homebuyer fairs, and providing outreach to capital markets. The partnership is already producing results. Nineteen houses will be constructed this summer and a total of 50 will be completed by early 2000. Basic water and sewer services as well as roads had to be constructed and improved as part of the project.


The Federal Housing Administration, which is part of HUD, and Ginnie Mae will work together to help make affordable housing available for about 7,500 families throughout South Dakota by insuring and securitizing $650 million worth of home mortgages over the next five years. FHA mortgage insurance gives more families the ability to qualify for mortgages, because it protects lenders against losses should the homeowner default on the loan. Ginnie Mae can lower the interest rate on mortgages by creating a secondary market for the purchase of qualified mortgages.


HUD is awarding $1,635,626 in rural housing and economic development grants to be used on reservations in South Dakota. The grants are part of about $8 million in rural housing grants awarded to tribes around the country.

Grants announced in June will go to tribes in these states in these amounts: Alaska - $1,100,000; Arizona - $450,000; California - $320,546; Montana - $1,649,852; Nebraska - $150,000; New Mexico - $1,100,000; North Carolina - $250,000; Oklahoma - $241,465; South Carolina - $850,000; Washington State -$267,702.

The new grants for South Dakota tribes will go to: 1) The Lakota Fund, in Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation - $538,266 to complete 30 houses that will be sold to tribal members on a lease-purchase basis. 2) Cangleska, Inc. in Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation - $211,764 to help homeless battered women get permanent housing. 3) The Rosebud Sioux Tribe - $500,000 to build 24 homes for low- and moderate-income people. In-kind leveraging and financing resources total $495,700 in support of this program. 4) The Rosebud Sioux Tribe - $196,800 to establish the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation, which will work to create jobs and economic development on the Rosebud Reservation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has committed $30,200 to the corporation. 5) Oti Kaga, Inc. in Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation - $188,796 to provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income members of the tribe. Oti Kaga is currently developing a 20-unit apartment project that will serve very low-income families.


Members of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America will insure an additional $37 million in mortgages on Indian reservations to enable more Indians to get mortgages with low downpayments. Commitments made by individual companies include:

  • Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Co. will enter into a three-year alliance with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to: 1) Endow a full-time Director of Homeownership counseling. 2) Create homeowner education courses for the Oglala Lakota College. 3) Develop innovative lending criteria and new home financing mechanisms tailored to the specific needs of the Oglalas.

  • PMI Mortgage Insurance Company is increasing its Native American mortgage insurance initiative to $55 million (from $20 million) nationwide. PMI already insures mortgages for the Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Citizen Potawatomi and Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

  • GE Capital will implement a pilot program with its mortgage lender partners to insure $2 million in mortgage loans in Indian Country. GE Capital also is working with the National Association of Indian American Housing Councils to develop an underwriting seminar to inform and help the conventional market meet the needs of Native Americans.

  • Republic Mortgage Insurance Company will launch the Financial Independence pilot project with the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation and later expand the project to other reservations. The project will give students the knowledge to manage their financial affairs wisely, covering such areas as getting a home mortgage, financing other large purchases, and using credit cards. The project will begin by offering the courses to 2,000 Pine Ridge students each year at the ninth grade and community college levels. RMIC will give $100,000 over five years to make this project a reality.


HUD has worked with businesses that have created new training and scholarship opportunities for Indian students.

  • MetLife will create a Young Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program with the Oglala Sioux that will go to two members of the tribe each year for the next five years. Each of the 10 Fellows chosen over the next five years will receive a scholarship to study business in a community college or university of $2,500 a year (amounting to $10,000 each over four years). Each Fellow will also spend a summer as a paid intern at MetLife's headquarters in New York City.

  • Microsoft will donate $300,000 worth of computer software to Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Gateway computer company will work with tribal colleges in South Dakota to develop data processing and computer programming courses and will donate $50,000 to Oglala Lakota College. The courses will begin in autumn of 2000.

  • Owens Corning and all of the nation's tribal colleges will work together to offer students at the colleges training to qualify for jobs as certified experts in energy efficiency in homes and the latest construction technologies. Owens Corning will train instructors from tribal colleges to offer the job training to their students. After their training, the students will be able to help create more affordable housing on reservations.

  • The North American Steel Framing Alliance, Worthington Industries and Amity, Inc. will establish job training courses at tribal colleges in steel framing of housing and other buildings. Students with this training can help build new housing and commercial buildings on reservations. The companies will also facilitate relationships between other private companies in the construction industry (including manufacturers, tool companies, fastener companies, home builders, panelizers and others) and Native American economic development organizations.


HUD will link Pine Ridge to HUD's information superhighway through a new computer called the HUD Kiosk on the reservation. The kiosk will give Pine Ridge the easiest, most direct way to get information on the full range of HUD programs. This will be the first HUD Next Door Kiosk in Indian Country. The new consumer-oriented kiosks have been placed in 46 cities across the nation. Information available will be specially tailored for Native Americans.


With a $2 million grant provided by HUD, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and HUD have formed a non-profit group called the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing, Inc. The partnership has been given the name Tatanka Woihanble Optipi (Buffalo Dreams, Gathering Homes) in the Lakota language. The mission of the Partnership is to expand homeownership opportunities for people living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by helping to identify families ready to buy a home, by finding or providing gap financing for families who don't have enough savings to cover the downpayment or closing costs, and by serving as a liaison between families and lending institutions. The Partnership reaches out to families to help them find an affordable home and financing.

By early 2000, 50 homes will be built for homebuyers on the Pine Ridge Reservation, including 19 constructed over this summer. Known as Shared Visions, this Partnership model has had success on the Pine Ridge Reservation. In just nine months, 23 families have been either approved for home loans or are part of a lease-purchase program. The first five homebuyers, who will move into their homes later this month, are:

Lucy Vocu, who has lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation all of her life. She is a single mother of a 15-year-old daughter, Grace, and a 7-year-old son, Jacob. They have lived in a low-rent apartment since 1993. Vocu is a teacher at the Wolf Creek School. The family is moving into a three-bedroom manufactured home. "I feel true independence in owning my own home." Vocu said. "To those who think it's impossible - it is possible."

Barbara Jo Linehan, who has lived on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation most of her life, is a single mother of a 4-year-old daughter, Shelby Black Feather. She has lived in a low-rent duplex since 1994. She is now a pharmacy technician at the Pine Ridge Hospital and her new four-bedroom manufactured home will move her closer to here job.

Dorothy and Francis Two Bulls, who have two children, Lynette, 10 and Veronica, 9. Dorothy Two Bulls works as a family and community coordinator at the Head Start program, which offers educational support to students in their homes. Her husband is a retired police officer.

Farrah Big Crow and Robert Clifford, who live with their year-old son at Clifford's parents' home near Wounded Knee. Big Crow works as an attendance clerk at the Red Cloud Indian School and Clifford works as a correctional officer for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Safety office. Big Crow says: "We've been talking about this for years. There were no houses to dream about."

Tammy Brewer is a single woman who commutes four hours round-trip each day from a Rapid City apartment to a job as a clerk at the Indian Health Services Hospital at Pine Ridge.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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