The McLaughlin Family

Homebuyer Education Classes Paving the Road to Homeownership in Indian Country

[Photo: The McLaughlin Family]
The McLaughlin Family

As many Native families know, buying land or a home on reservation lands can be a long and stressful process. Not only is there an often lack of supply, but paperwork can delay the process for months on end. The Umatilla Reservation Housing Authority (URHA) recently took an active step in making the process more familiar and accessible for tribal members with their new Homebuyer Education Classes. Not only are the classes well-attended; they are achieving results.

Ryan and Talia McLaughlin represent just one of the over 300 Umatilla families that have completed the URHA Homebuyer Education Class. Through the class, Talia McLaughlin learned how her family could prepare, plan for, and insure their new investment. Today, the McLaughlin's, including their young daughter Dakota, are proud to call five acres on the Umatilla reservation their home.

The Umatilla have seen economic changes in the past few years that have impacted the tribal housing market. In 1994, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians opened the Wildhorse Casino and Resort, which brought many families back home in response to this new source of employment. In addition, the current mortgage crisis across our nation is causing many more families return to the reservation. As a result, the small rural area of Umatilla, eight miles out of Pendleton, Oregon is trying to meet this new housing demand.

Marcus Luke is the Homeownership Counselor for the Umatilla Reservation Housing Authority. Umatilla Housing Authority's homebuyer education class (funded by HUD Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) grant) is sparking a rise in homeownership in the Umatilla community. Covering an array of topics including tribal land history, credit score reports, insurance information, wise spending practices, and Section 184 Loan literacy, these community focused classes are helping prepare a new generation of homeowners.

"We talk about predatory lending, and managing basic bills", Luke recounts when highlighting the program's focus on overall financial literacy. Tools to understand the consequences of poor financial management and ways to improve credit are attracting a wide audience to these homebuyer education classes. Marketed to those eighteen and over, the classes attract many young families, like the McLaughlin's. However, the classes are not limited to one age group, and Luke is proud of his recent success in helping an older couple with the purchase of their new home, "it's the whole community". And, in addressing the needs of its population, URHA is building a community - one home at a time

Photo Credit: Anna King/Northwest News Network.


Content Archived: December 23, 2013