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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winner: Wyoming

Best Practice: Increasing Homeownership Opportunities on the Wind River Reservation

Housing Partners, Inc. Builds New Homes on the Wind River Reservation

Riverton, Wyoming. Barriers to individual home ownership on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, like other Native American reservations, are many: poverty is high, the state of current housing opportunities is low, and regulations on tribal land use make private home ownership a challenge. Shared by two tribes, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone, the Wind River Reservation population totals 8,000 and almost 400 families need decent housing where none is available.

Photo of Cathy Yochheim receiving Best of the Best award
Cathy Yochheim (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

Housing Partners, Inc., a nonprofit HUD approved counseling agency and Community Development Housing Organization under the HOME program, developed a program to help coordinate activities to increase home ownership opportunities on Indian Reservation land. Currently, the two tribes that occupy the land and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are allowing a 25-year lease with an option for one 25-year renewal for building homes on the trust land. However, many residents of the Reservation are struggling to find housing opportunities. By coordinating the activities of nonprofits, businesses, schools, and the Tribal Councils, Housing Partners is addressing some of the challenges to private home ownership on the Reservation’s trust lands and slowly but surely expanding the available housing market.

By working with Habitat for Humanity, BIA, and the respective Tribal Councils, Housing Partners built three new houses last year—the first new housing built on the reservation in several years. Two additional homes are planned for the summer of 2000. The construction of the homes involved many partners, including High Plains Power, which provided labor and solar panels to make the homes more cost-effective. A local high school’s Building and Trades class helped build one of the homes. Shoshone Enterprises donated materials and labor, and the Arapaho Housing Authority supplied additional resources. All of the homes built and in planning fall under the Habitat for Humanity umbrella and are financed by Habitat.

Housing Partners is also working towards being able to facilitate the use of the HUD Section 184 Loan Guarantee Program. Cooperation between the BIA and tribes achieved a 50-year land lease program (published in the Federal Register in June 2000) that will allow approved lenders to issue Section 184 loans on the Reservation. Fannie Mae has offered to purchase these loans once FHA insures them.

This is the first home ownership program on the Wind River Reservation trust land from a non-tribal entity. This establishes a vehicle to increase homeownership on land that had not previously been open to that possibility, allowing families to live in decent and affordable homes on their own traditional land.

Contact: Mr. Kelly Jorgensen, Phone: 307-261-6250
Tracking Number: 2964
Winning Category: Geographic and Program (Office of Native American Programs)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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